Georgia – Russia tensions escalate

Georgia has arrested four Russian officers, accusing them of spying and planning a “major provocation”.

Mr Merabishvili [Georgia’s Interior Minister] said the detained Russians and Georgian citizens had been collecting information on Tbilisi’s relations with Nato, as well on its sea port and railway infrastructure, opposition parties and army.

“Today we neutralised a very serious and dangerous group,” he said.

Russia’s chief of army staff Yuri Baluyevsky, quoted by Russian news agencies, said the move was “sheer lawlessness”.

I must confess, the situation in Georgia is beginning to worry me.  Both sides seem to be ratcheting up the tension, with no real thought of the long term consequences. 

I think events to date have been little more than posturing – and I certainly can’t believe that either side wants to push the other too far.  But, all the same, I’m beginning to get the feeling that, sooner or later, someone’s going to miscalculate, and spark of a conflict that neither side really wants. 

Update 28/9: Georgia have upped the stakes by surrounding the Russian Army HQ in Tbilisi, preventing anyone from entering or leaving the building.  They’re demanding the surrender of a Russian intelligence officer – Lieutenant Colonel Konstantin Pugachin.

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