July 22, 2015 / 6:38 PM / 3 years ago

Russia denies it violates Georgian sovereignty with border markers

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian Foreign Ministry denied on Wednesday accusations by neighboring Georgia that it had violated its territory by placing border markers on the edge of breakaway South Ossetia region.

Georgia’s Foreign Ministry said last week that part of the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline was now in territory it regards as occupied by Russia.

“Information about moving the borderline inside the Georgian territory is wrong,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

South Ossetia and its fellow breakaway region of Abkhazia moved away from Georgia’s control after a brief war with Moscow in 2008. Both host Russian military bases but most countries and the United Nations regard them as part of Georgia.

Russian troops have been installing barbed wire and fences around South Ossetia since the war but residents say the soldiers have now erected border signs up to 1.5 km (one mile) beyond the administrative border.

European Council President Donald Tusk criticized Russia on Monday for placing the border markers, calling it a provocation.

The 830-km (520-mile) Baku-Supsa pipeline, operated by BP, runs from Azerbaijan to the Georgian Black Sea terminal of Supsa. It can transport up to 100,000 barrels of oil per day.

A former Soviet republic, Georgia is important to Europe because its pipelines bring in Caspian gas and oil.

The country of 3.7 million has no diplomatic relations with Russia but says a foreign policy goal is not to antagonize Moscow. Nevertheless, it is seeking membership of NATO and the European Union.

Reporting by Vladimir Soldatkin; Editing by Angus MacSwan

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