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Russian Ships Steam Toward Georgia as Conflict Grows

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Paul Abelsky and Alex Nicholson
Sunday, Aug 10, 2008

Russia sent warships from the Black Sea fleet toward Georgia as it stepped up its conflict with the former Soviet republic over the separatist South Ossetia region.

The ships included a vessel based in the naval port of Sevastopol and four others from Novorossiysk, Komsomolskaya Pravda reported, without saying where it got the information. Georgian Economic Development Minister Eka Sharashidze said a ship carrying grain to the Georgian port of Poti was turned away by a Russian warship, suggesting an economic blockade.

“Russia has shown itself capable of crossing every line in this conflict,” Sharashidze said in a telephone interview late yesterday from Tbilisi, the Georgian capital.

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Russian jets crossed the border to attack military and civilian targets in as many as six locations simultaneously, Georgian Security Council Secretary Kakha Lomaia said. Russia’s actions amounted to “full-scale war,” he said. Russian planes today bombed a military airfield near Tbilisi, Georgian Security Council secretary Kakha Lomaia said in a telephone interview.

“It’s all going to hell,” Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said yesterday in an interview on CNN in which he appealed for international help. “We are willing to do cease- fire immediately providing the other side stops to shoot and to bomb.”

President George W. Bush said yesterday the fighting was a “a dangerous escalation” and called for an “immediate halt to violence.” The U.S. State Department issued a travel advisory to discourage Americans from visiting the region. Russia demanded a withdrawal of Georgian troops from South Ossetia, which broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s and exists as a de facto independent state with Russian economic support.

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This article was posted: Sunday, August 10, 2008 at 4:09 am

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