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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Keeps Pressure on Georgia

TBILISI, Georgia -- Maintaining tough pressure on Georgia, President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday that Tbilisi remains reluctant to uproot militants who are using Pankisi Gorge to launch cross-border attacks.

Putin made a blunt, televised warning to Georgia on Sept. 11 to take harsh action against Chechen rebels and international terrorists in its lawless Pankisi Gorge or face a possible Russian military operation on its territory.

Speaking to journalists Tuesday, Putin said he had been dissatisfied with Georgian President Eduard Shevardnadze's response.

"We have raised the issue of guarantees to make sure there will be no incursions from Georgia, but there are no such guarantees in the letter" from Shevardnadze, Putin said in televised remarks.

In Friday's letter to Putin, which was released to the media, Shevardnadze pointed out that it was Russian forces that pushed Chechen rebels into Pankisi after the start of the second war in Chechnya. He again pledged that Georgian forces would restore order in Pankisi, and criticized Russia's "imperialist circles" of whipping up "anti-Georgian hysteria."

Clearly vexed by Shevardnadze's letter, Putin fired back Tuesday.

"The Georgian authorities not only are unwilling to cooperate to prevent incursions into Russian territory from their territory, but, moreover, they are cooperating with terrorists according to the information we have," Putin said, Interfax reported. "It looks like they are interested in preserving the existing situation."

A poll of 500 Moscow residents conducted last week by the ROMIR polling agency found that more than 70 percent of respondents supported Putin's warning to Georgia.

Shevardnadze responded to the warning by ordering a stepped-up security operation in Pankisi on Monday. He delayed a trip to Azerbaijan for two hours Tuesday to receive a briefing from the nation's top security officials about the situation in Pankisi and said afterward that the sweep had "good prospects."