The EU and the US have warned Russia over its decision to expand its state border in South Ossetia 300 metres towards Georgian territory.
Although Russian government officials have rejected the allegations, Georgia claimed on July 10 that Russia put signs in South Ossetian territory within Georgia’s official borders in order to establish further control over the international Baku-Supsa oil pipeline operated by BP.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry released a statement saying “certain segments of the Baku-Supsa pipeline run in the vicinity of both areas and, with this illegal action, a certain portion of the pipeline next to the village of Orchosani fell within the occupied territory.”
In response, the Russian Foreign Ministry called the reports “contrived propagandistic hype.”
Georgia’s Foreign Minister Tamar Beruchashvili slammed the Russian government saying the border move was nothing but a “creeping Russian annexation."
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini’s office said in a statement that “steps that could be perceived as provocative must be avoided. The EU reaffirms its full support for Georgia's territorial integrity within its internationally recognised borders."
Another EU foreign policy spokesman told the Telegraph that moving the demarcation lines "had led to tension in the area, with potentially negative effects on the local population, their livelihood and freedom of movement.”
Georgia and Russia got into an armed conflict over South Ossetia when Georgia tried taking Ossetia back after South Ossetia declared its autonomy in 2008.
Although South Ossetia is considered as part of Georgia by the international community, Russia officially recognised the region as a country and has helped Ossetians fight against the Georgian state. This led to Georgia losing control of South Ossetia, and Russia maintaining a military presence there since 2008.
The 833-kilometre long international Baku-Supsa pipeline, with a transport capacity of 100,000 barrels of oil a day, starts in Baku, Azerbaijan and ends in Georgia’s Black Sea port village of Supsa.