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Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Georgia blocks Russian military transit flights - Air Force official

MOSCOW, December 11 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia is impeding the transit of Russian military aircraft delivering cargo and personnel to Russia's military base in Armenia, in breach of a bilateral agreement, a Russian Air Force official said Monday. "Despite the agreement that Russia and Georgia signed on the transit of military cargo through the country's airspace, there have been repeated instances where Georgia has prohibited the movement of Russian Air Force aircraft through its airspace.

The Georgian side ignores most of our applications without any comment," said Alexander Drobyshevsky, head of the information and public relations department of the Air Force. Russian-Georgian relations, which have been tense in recent years over the status of Russian-leaning breakaway republics in Georgia and Tbilisi's drive to join NATO, have hit a new low since four Russian troops were briefly arrested in Tbilisi on spying charges in September. Russia has suspended all transportation and mail links with the South Caucasus country.

The Air Force official said that out of the 40 applications that Russia has submitted over the last six months, only 12 were accepted. The Russian 102nd military base in Gyumri, about 120 kilometers (75 miles) from the Armenian capital Yerevan, is part of a joint air defense system of the Commonwealth of Independent States, which was deployed in Armenia in 1995.
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