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Georgia Blocks Russian Inspection of Its Military Facilities

Georgia has rejected a Russian request to inspect Georgian military facilities under the 1999 Vienna agreement on confidence and security-building measures in Europe.

In announcing its decision, Georgia's Foreign Ministry cited provisions of the Vienna agreement permitting a country to reject such inspections if it feels they could harm its security. The ministry also cited the sweep by Russian troops into Georgia last year as well as what it called Russia's gross violations of cease-fire accords and continued occupation of Georgian territory.

The Georgian ministry said its refusal to allow inspections of Georgian military facilities is aimed only at Russia, not at other members of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

In Moscow, Russia's Foreign Ministry called the Georgian decision proof that the country has something to hide about the deployment of its military units.

Russian forces crossed into Georgia in August as Georgian forces sought to recapture the breakaway pro-Russian region of South Ossetia. Russia says it was protecting its citizens in South Ossetia. Georgia says it was responding to a Russian invasion.

Weeks after the conflict, Russia recognized South Ossetia and another breakaway region, Abkhazia, as independent countries. Russia maintains a total of more than seven thousand troops in the areas.

Meanwhile, Georgia announced plans to resume natural gas supplies to South Ossetia cut off as a result of damage done to pipelines during the conflict.