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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Georgia Says Russian Troops Being Deployed

TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgia's Interior Ministry said Thursday that Russia had deployed 2,000 extra troops in South Ossetia in the past week and was preparing to stir up more trouble in the breakaway region.

"In the past week, Russia increased the number of troops by 2,000 to 7,000 staff," Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili told reporters. "We fear Russia is preparing provocations in South Ossetia."

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov dismissed the charges, saying all of Moscow's troop deployments to the region were openly declared. "It's very difficult to comment on official declarations of Georgian representatives because there is very little truth in them," he said.

Utiashvili said dozens of Russian armored vehicles had been positioned in the disputed Akhalgori district, the southeastern corner of South Ossetia that Tbilisi insists should be returned to its control under a French-brokered cease-fire deal. The Kremlin has recognized South Ossetia and a second breakaway region, Abkhazia, as independent states and said it will station 7,600 troops there to provide security -- a figure Lavrov repeated Thursday.

A 225-member European Union mission is monitoring the cease-fire, patrolling the former buffer zone around South Ossetia up to its de facto border. Lavrov called for better cooperation from the European monitors, whom he held responsible for the security of the two regions, to prevent what he said were continued violations of cease-fire agreements by the Georgian side. "Russia is concerned they are taking a light-hearted view of the situation of what is happening there," Lavrov said of the EU observers. "This is a dangerous game with fire."