- Georgia - Russia - Russian military - war
AFP - Georgia is swiftly rearming with the aim of waging a new military conflict, Russia's deputy chief of staff said Wednesday, amid rising tensions ahead of the anniversary of the states' August 2008 war.
"We clearly see that Georgia is rearming to previous levels and higher" than before the 2008 conflict, deputy chief of staff General Anatoly Nogovitsin told reporters.
"Experience shows that if it is rearming it is doing so only for the purpose of aggression," he said.
"If there is an aggression, I can tell you that our response will be adequate. As a military man, I can tell you that we are closely monitoring the situation," he added.
He acknowledged however there was no evidence of any imminent action. "We do not see any threat beyond these continuous provocations" from the Georgian side, he said.
Russia has repeatedly accused the West, led by the United States, of helping Georgia re-equip its military after the armed forces' weaponry was severely depleted in the August conflict.
"The most worrying question is that Georgia is being rearmed," said Nogovitsin.
Georgian National Security Council Secretary Eka Tkeshelashvili described the comments as "ridiculous", saying a revamp of Georgia's armed forces was aimed at fulfilling its stated goal of winning NATO membership.
Russia's statements are aimed at "creating this myth of Georgia's aggression and aggressive re-armament," she told reporters in Tbilisi.
"Georgia is concentrated very fundamentally on reforming its military forces in a way that will bring them in full compliance with NATO standards," she added.
Tensions have been rising in recent days between the ex-Soviet states as they prepare to mark the one-year anniversary on August 7 of the outbreak of their five-day war over breakaway South Ossetia.
Russia has warned it will hit back if the Georgian provocations continue. Georgia has however denied any violations of the ceasefire and in turn accused Russia of breaking the truce.