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Russian military bases in Georgia on high alert

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Russia's military bases in Georgia are on high alert, and troops have been ordered to 'shoot to kill' if provoked, the forces commander said Sunday.
TBILISI, October 1 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's military bases in Georgia are on high alert, and troops have been ordered to 'shoot to kill' if provoked, the forces commander said Sunday.

The crisis in relations between the ex-Soviet neighbors erupted Wednesday when Georgian authorities arrested several Russian officers they accused of spying. Russia retains two bases in the country.

Major General Andrei Popov said, "in the case of a contingency situation or a provocation, troops are ready to counter them by any means necessary, including shooting to kill."

Russia had agreed to withdraw its troops from the Akhalkalaki and Batumi bases in the South Caucasus country by 2008, but after the arrests, Popov warned that these plans may be put on hold.

The commander said that according to Russian law, military bases abroad are treated as Russian territory, and any attack on them by a foreign state is considered an act of aggression against Russia, which must be countered by any means necessary.

Russia has withdrawn most of its diplomats from the South Caucasus country's capital following Georgian authorities' arrests of five Russian servicemen on Wednesday on spying charges, which has sparked the worst diplomatic row between the countries in recent years.

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