- The Washington Times - Thursday, August 14, 2008

UPDATED:

A large-scale Russian armored unit is moving eastward out of the western city of Senaki toward the Kutaisi, the country’s second-largest city, Georgian officials said Thursday.

Russian authorities have admitted conducting operations in Senaki, a city near where the Georgian military’s 2nd infantry division is based.

“There are 105 tanks and armored personnel carriers moving now from Senaki towards the city of Kutaisi, the largest city in western Georgia and the second largest city in the country,” Georgia’s ambassador to the U.S., Vasil Sikharulidze, told reporters in a 2 p.m. conference call.

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Kutaisi, the capital of the western region of Imereti, is 137 miles to the west of Tbilisi, the capital.

Mr. Sikharulidze said it was also some 124 miles from both conflict zones, South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Mr. Sikharulidze would not comment on the state of defenses around Kutaisi, but he did say that the bulk of Georgian forces are currently deployed around Tblisi.

He said he did not know if Georgian officials were planning to move units from Tblisi to Kutaisi.

A spokesman at the Russian Embassy in Washington told The Washington Times that he had no confirmation on the alleged troop movements.

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