July 5, 2008 / 11:52 AM / 12 years ago

Russia warns of "new war" in Abkhazia conflict

MOSCOW (Reuters) - A “new war” could break out in Georgia’s breakaway region of Abkhazia if Tbilisi uses military force to resolve the conflict, Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Saturday.

Separatist leader Sergei Bagapsh accused Georgia on Saturday of planning to take over the region by force earlier this year, though the operation did not come to fruition.

“Such plans by Tbilisi can only be seen as yet another step towards further escalating the tensions in the region, which will bring the conflict into a new war,” the Defence Ministry said in a statement on its Web site www.mil.ru.

A popular Soviet-era resort, Abkhazia threw off Tbilisi’s rule in a 1990s separatist war. It is not recognised by any state, but runs its own affairs.

Earlier this week, Abkhazia said it was sealing itself off from Georgian-controlled territory after a series of explosions it blamed on Tbilisi.

Reporting by Amie Ferris-Rotman and Thomas Peter

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