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World Council for the Cedars Revolution

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Jul 20th
Home arrow News Content arrow Blog arrow Blog Items arrow Intelligence arrow US warship in Georgia; fuel train blown up
US warship in Georgia; fuel train blown up PDF Print E-mail
Written by AFP, Times Online, Debka   
Monday, 25 August 2008

A Georgian soldier walks away from the burning fuel train near Gori (David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters)
A Georgian soldier walks away from the burning fuel train near Gori (David Mdzinarishvili/Reuters)

A fuel train exploded today on Georgia’s main east-west rail line and police said it appeared to have hit a landmine.

US warship in Georgia; fuel train blown up
Calin Neacsu I AFP

 
BATUMI, Georgia: A US Navy destroyer carrying relief supplies arrived at a port in Georgia yesterday in a sign of robust US support for its ally as Russian troops dug in further up the coast.

Moscow faced renewed pressure to withdraw its forces from western Georgia, where they control access to the key Black Sea port of Poti. They also held positions around South Ossetia.

France called a meeting of European leaders on Sept. 1 to discuss the crisis in Georgia and the European Union’s relations with Russia. President Nicolas Sarkozy’s office said in a statement that France, in its role as current president of the European Union, had called the summit, which will take place in Brussels.

In further fallout from the conflict, a train carrying fuel from Azerbaijan exploded just west of Gori in central Georgia, sending a thick black tower of smoke billowing into the air.

Georgia’s Interior Ministry said the explosion on the rail track, a vital east-west link across Georgia, was the result of a mine laid across the tracks or nearby. No casualties were reported.

The USS McFaul dropped anchor off Batumi, 50 km south of Poti, the first of three ships carrying blankets, food and other supplies to help Georgia deal with an estimated 100,000 displaced people.

A top Russian general accused NATO countries of using humanitarian aid as “cover” for a buildup of naval forces in the Black Sea, heightening tension in the aftermath of the conflict.

Russia withdrew tanks, artillery and hundreds of troops from their most advanced positions in Georgia on Friday, saying it had fulfilled all obligations under a French-brokered peace agreement. But Russian troops still control access to Poti, south of the Moscow-backed rebel region of Abkhazia, and have established other checkpoints around South Ossetia, where the conflict began.

Sarkozy also telephoned his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev and asked him to withdraw his forces from a road linking Poti to Senaki in western Georgia. Sarkozy and Medvedev agreed on the need for an “international mechanism” in the area south of South Ossetia, a French statement said.

The Kremlin said it was ready to cooperate with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to monitor a buffer zone near South Ossetia, but it said there had been no discussion about replacing Russian troops by international monitors. The West sees the presence of OSCE monitors as critical to ensuring the success of the cease-fire.

The vague six-point peace plan has been interpreted differently by Russia and the West, with Russia claiming it has the right to leave peacekeepers deep inside Georgia.
 
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From Times Online

August 24, 2008

Georgian fuel train 'blown up by mine'

Times Online

A fuel train exploded today on Georgia’s main east-west rail line and police said it appeared to have hit a landmine.

Officials said that the train was on the main track of the line linking eastern and western Georgia, a vital trade route for oil exports from Azerbaijan to European markets.

The extent of the damage was not immediately clear but a Reuters correspondent saw huge plumes of black smoke pouring from the wreckage of the train in the village of Skra, 5 km (3 miles) west of Gori.

Russian troops left Gori, a key town in the Russia-Georgia conflict over breakaway South Ossetia, on Friday after a 10-day occupation. Today's explosion occurred near an abandoned Georgian military base.

Russian forces pushed into Georgia this month after repelling a Georgian offensive to retake breakaway South Ossetia from pro-Moscow separatists. Moscow has now pulled back most of its tanks and troops, but said it would maintain checkpoints in a buffer zone adjacent to South Ossetia and in Georgia’s Black Sea port of Poti.

Shota Utiashvili, a Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman, said: “According to very preliminary information, a train carrying fuel exploded on the railway, which we think was mined.” There was no independent confirmation of his comments.

Emergency services managed to unhitch 19 wagons and move them away from the fire, averting possible further explosions. “We should find out first how big the fire is and how soon it will be extinguished, in order to assess the damage,” said Lado Gurgenidze, the Georgian Prime Minister..“But the railway is vital, not just for the Georgian economy but for the economies of neighbouring countries.”

The line runs through the capital Tbilisi before splitting in three and running to the Black Sea ports of Poti and Batumi and southwest to just short of the Turkish border.

On August 16, an explosion brought down a bridge on the line further east near the town of Kaspi. Russia denied Georgian accusations that it was behind the attack.

Oil exports were disrupted, but Azerbaijan said Georgia had offered a smaller, disused rail bridge for use until the damaged bridge was repaired.

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Explosion severs Azerbaijan-Georgia-Europe fuel railway link
DEBKAfile Special Report

August 24, 2008, 2:14 PM (GMT+02:00)

The train hit a mine Sunday, Aug. 24 at the village of Skra, 5 km west of Gori, on the main track of the railway line linking Eastern and Western Georgia – a vital trade route for oil exports from Azerbaijan to European markets.

Responsibility for the sabotage has not been determined. The blast deals a serious blow to Georgia’s efforts to recover from its ten-day war over South Ossetia in the face of the continuing Russian military presence.

Georgian officials suggested Russian forces which pulled out of the area two days ago left a road mine on the railroad.

Azerbaijan restored its oil consignments via Georgia only two days ago; their interruption during the fighting robbed the Saakasvhili government of valuable revenue, which the attack has suspended again.

In another development Sunday, the guided missile destroyer USS McFaul docked at the Georgian port of Batumi carrying supplies such as blankets, hygiene kits and baby food. Two more US ships are due to dock later this week.

The American vessels were supposed originally to put in at the Black Sea port of Poti, 80 km to the north, but changed direction to avoid meeting Russian troops who are fortifying their positions at Poti further up the coast.

Russia says it entitled to keep its forces in a buffer zone around the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, citing the truce and other international agreements as covering unspecified “additional security measures,” over and above their pre-conflict positions. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Moscow claims, approved the buffer zones which they organized before the ceasefire was signed (as revealed by DEBKAfile on Aug. 17)

Russia acknowledges that Poti is outside the ceasefire’s terms and its peacekeeping mandate.

Saturday, the Russian missile cruiser Moskva returned to its base in Ukraine. DEBKAfile reported on Aug. 20 from official Russian sources that the warship was part of a large flotilla heading for the Mediterranean port of Tartus in Syria.

The defense ministry in Moscow later detached the Moskva from the contingent and sent it back to the Black Sea.

http://www.debka.com/headline.php?hid=5530



 
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