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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia Adopts U. S. Ploy

TBILISI, Georgia - The Russian military is taking a page from American military doctrine in sending Russian soldiers to help defend Georgian railway lines, the deputy commander of the newly installed forces said Thursday.

Explaining Russia's strategic interest in the area, General Vasily Belchenko said: "Russia cannot exist without the Black Sea, but no one should be seated of this strategic interest. It doesn't mean Russia will dictate to its neighbors.

"We intend to follow the American doctrine: to establish bases as far as possible from one's borders, but without threatening anyone".

There are thought to be more than 18, 000 Russian soldiers in Georgia.

Under the scheme, announced by the Georgian leader Eduard Shevardnadze last Friday in Moscow, Russia soldiers will be posted along the railways from Tbilisi to Adler, in southern Russia, and from Tbilisi to the Black Sea port of Poti. Armenian, Azeri and Georgian soldiers will guard the contents of trains going to their countries.

Shevardnadze unveiled the plan after talks with President Yeltsin, President Levon Ter-Petrosyan of Armenia and President Geidar Aliyev of Azerbaijan.

The line to Adler runs through Georgia's Black Sea region of Abkhazia, which is controlled by Abkhaz separatist forces and their supporters from Russia, and through the western Georgian region of Mingrelia, which is in the hands of the ousted former Georgian president, Zviad Gamsakhurdia.

General Belchenko said in an interview: "Russian troops will not fight their way through Georgia's internal conflicts". He added that: "I think all sides will agree because guarding the railways is a question of economics not politics". Many Georgians are opposed to the presence of the Russian troops because of a general belief that they have supported Abkhaz separatists.

Last Friday, the Georgian and Russian chiefs of staff signed an agreement regulating the status of Russian troops in Georgia. They will stay until at least 1995. Under another deal, it has been widely reported that Georgia will receive raw materials in return for leasing out port facilities at Poti to the Russian military.