Russia will close its embassy in Georgia

Tbilisi cuts diplomatic ties with Moscow


Russia will have to close its embassy in Tbilisi after Georgia decided to cut diplomatic ties with Moscow, Russia's RIA news agency quoted a Foreign Ministry source as saying on Friday.

"We regret this step from the Georgian side. It will not assist our bilateral relations," Russian foreign ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said.

"When diplomatic relations are cut, the embassy closes," an unnamed source said. "What are we to do? Yes it (the embassy) will close and only the consulate will remain."

Georgia said it will withdraw all diplomats from its Moscow embassy within days, a foreign ministry spokeswoman said.

"Within the coming days, Georgia will withdraw all diplomats from its embassy in Moscow," the head of the foreign ministry's press department, Khatuna Iosava said.

"Consular relations with the Russian Federation will be maintained," she said. "It is a downgrade of diplomatic relations, not a complete cut."

Russia said the move would not help ease the crisis between the two caused by the five day war earlier this month.

Georgia's parliament on Thursday called for the government to cut diplomatic ties with Moscow over Russia's "occupation of Georgian territory."

Lawmakers unanimously approved a resolution that "orders the executive power to cut diplomatic ties with the Russian Federation."

It also said that "Russian armed forces, including so-called peacekeepers, are declared as occupying armed forces."

Georgia had already pulled all but two of its diplomats from its embassy in Moscow earlier in the week.

Hundreds of thousands of Georgians live in Russia and cutting diplomatic ties would have left them without consular services.

The move came after Russia on Tuesday recognized two breakaway Georgian regions -- Abkhazia and South Ossetia -- as independent countries. Moscow's recognition of the two regions drew condemnation from Georgia and many Western countries.

Russia sent tanks and troops into Georgian territory in response to a Georgian offensive on August 7 to retake South Ossetia.

Moscow withdrew the bulk of its forces from Georgia last week under a French-brokered ceasefire agreement, but thousands of Russian troops remain deployed in the two rebel regions and in a "buffer zone" around them.