Tbilisi, Georgia Six Russian military officers accused of espionage by Georgia were allowed to leave the country and fly to Moscow on Monday, as Georgian authorities bid to defuse a diplomatic crisis with their northern neighbor.
Russia, however, announced a ban on most direct transportation links between the two countries and a suspension of postal service. Officials claimed the action was in response to unpaid debts and safety violations rather than retaliation for the arrests last week of four of the men.
It appeared those measures would take effect despite the decision to release the four and to grant the two others safe passage out of the country.
Russian television showed the four accused spies, still in handcuffs, being released in the Georgian capital, Tblisi, into the custody of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, as the first step in their repatriation. All six were greeted Monday evening at a military airport outside Moscow by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov.