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Abkhazia fears tensions with Georgia may progress - minister

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Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia wants a diplomatic resolution of the current situation with Tbilisi, but fears that the tensions may progress further, the Abkhaz foreign minister said on Saturday.
SUKHUMI, May 10 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia wants a diplomatic resolution of the current situation with Tbilisi, but fears that the tensions may progress further, the Abkhaz foreign minister said on Saturday.

"Georgia has repeatedly initiated military conflicts [with Abkhazia] and each time as it failed it looked for someone to blame - for the third party - which has always been Russia," Sergei Shamba said following his talks with Matthew Bryza, the U.S. Deputy Assistant Secretary for European and Eurasian Affairs.

Russia, which has run peacekeeping operations in Abkhazia and South Ossetia since bloody conflicts in the 1990s, has recently dispatched additional troops to Abkhazia to deter what it calls a planned Georgian military offensive. Tbilisi accuses Russian troops of siding with separatists and calls for replacing them with an international contingent.

"We do not want a war, because if that happens it will take place on the territory of Abkhazia and we have already went through this," Shamba said.

Bryza arrived Saturday in Sukhumi, the capital of Abkhazia, to discuss the current situation between the self-proclaimed republic and Georgia and for the possible ways to resume negotiations.

Moscow has increased the number of Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia from 2,000 to 3,000 servicemen, but said that it was within the limits set by earlier agreements with the Georgian leadership.

Tbilisi also accused Russia of shooting down its drone over Abkhazia on April 20 - a claim Russia flatly denied, calling Georgia's video footage fake.

Abkhazia has since claimed it had downed several more Georgian reconnaissance planes, with the last one having reportedly been shot down on Thursday. Tbilisi denied the downings.

Abkhazia, alongside South Ossetia, broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Between 10,000 and 30,000 people were killed in the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict and some 3,000 in Georgian-South Ossetian hostilities. Georgia is looking to regain control over the two de facto independent republics.

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