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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Georgia Counts 10,000 Russian Troops

APRussian soldiers standing at a checkpoint on the border between South Ossetia and the rest of Georgia in April.
TBILISI, Georgia -- Russia has deployed more than 10,000 soldiers in two breakaway Georgian regions, thousands more than previously announced, the Georgian Foreign Ministry said Monday.

"We have serious grounds to believe that Russia has more than 10,000 troops in the two regions, not 3,700 in each as they have claimed," Zurab Kachkachishvili, head of the ministry's political department, told reporters in Tbilisi.

Igor Konashenkov, a spokesman for Russia's ground troops, wasn't immediately available for comment.

Russia routed Georgia's U.S.-trained army in a five-day August war over the separatist region of South Ossetia and later recognized South Ossetia and another breakaway region, Abkhazia, as sovereign countries. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in October that Russia would deploy 3,700 soldiers in each region.

"Even a single soldier on our territory amounts to an occupation," Kachkachishvili said. "The fact that thousands are there is a clear provocation."

President Dmitry Medvedev last week signed accords with South Ossetia and Abkhazia that committed Russia to defend the regions for five years.

The defense pacts are essential to ensuring security in the Caucasus Mountains because Georgia has amassed 2,500 "security forces" on South Ossetia's border, the Kremlin said. Georgia denied moving troops toward the disputed regions.