A U.S. navy warship delivered humanitarian aid on Sunday for victims of Georgia’s brief war with Russia while Moscow ignored Western demands to pull its remaining troops from the Caucasus country’s heartland.
Russia says residual troops are peacekeepers needed to avert further bloodshed and to protect Georgia’s separatist, pro-Moscow provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Moscow withdrew the bulk of its forces from core Georgia on Friday.
But in a sign of simmering tensions, a fuel train exploded on Georgia’s main east-west rail line on Sunday near the central town of Gori after hitting a landmine, according to Georgian officials. A huge plume of black smoke climbed into the sky.
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Georgia’s Prime Minister Lado Gurgenidze told Reuters the damaged rail link was vital to the economy of Georgia and its neighbors, and Azeri officials said oil cargoes were being held up at the Georgian border following the explosion.
The Russia-Georgia conflict erupted on August 7-8 when Tbilisi tried to retake South Ossetia. A Russian counter-offensive pushed into Georgia proper, crossing its main east-west highway and nearing a Western-backed oil pipeline from Azerbaijan.