MOSCOW, August 1 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Defense Ministry is concerned over the recent shots on South Ossetia's capital Tskhinval and its suburbs and could use military force to defend the independent state's nationals, the Defense Ministry said Saturday.
The ministry said Georgia opened fire on the South Ossetian territory several times in the past few days. South Ossetian authorities reported mortar fire from Georgia on Saturday.
"Events in August 2008 developed in line with a similar scenario, which led to Georgia unfolding military aggression against South Ossetia and attacking the Russian peacekeeping contingent," the ministry said.
"Such actions cause serious concerns in the Russian Defense Ministry. In case of further provocations threatening the republic's population and the Russian military contingent deployed in South Ossetia, the ministry retains the right to use all available means and forces to defend the nationals of South Ossetia and Russian servicemen," it said.
Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and another former Georgian republic, Abkhazia, after Russia and Georgia fought a five-day war last August. Most residents of both South Ossetia and Abkhazia have held Russian citizenship for several years.
Georgian forces had attacked South Ossetia in an attempt to bring it back under central control. Since recognition of the two republics, Russia and Georgia have had no diplomatic ties.