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Archive for Wednesday, October 4, 2006

Russia suspends travel, postal links

October 4, 2006

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— Exasperated Georgians crowded at the capital's airport in disbelief Tuesday after Russia cut all travel links with the former Soviet republic in retaliation for detaining four of its military officers for espionage.

Moscow refused international pressure to lift the suspension of road, rail, air, maritime and postal links, saying Tbilisi deeply insulted it by arresting the officers. Georgia released the men Monday and they were permitted to return to Russia.

"One must not feed off Russia and insult it. The Georgian leadership must understand this," Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in Moscow.

The punitive measures, which dealt a painful blow to economically struggling Georgia, mark the first time Russia has used such pressure against a former Soviet state. They reflect the Kremlin's irritation about Georgia's pro-Western policies and NATO ambitions and signal a struggle for influence with Washington in Moscow's former Soviet backyard.

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