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Russia threatens retaliation following soldier arrests in Georgia

MOSCOW, December 21 (RIA Novosti) - Russia reserves its right to take retaliatory action against Georgia following recent arrests of Russian servicemen in the country, the Foreign Ministry said in a statement Wednesday.

"In the last few days, the Georgian authorities have committed a series of unlawful acts against the Russian military serving within the country's territory under Russian-Georgian agreements," the statement said.

On December 18, police did not allow Lieutenant General Valery Yevnevich, the Commander of Russia's Land Forces, to enter Abkhazia where he was to join the Commonwealth of Independent States' collective peacekeeping force in Georgia's self-declared republic, the ministry said.

The following day, police stopped a car with three military officials, who were detained and taken to a local military police station. "Russia was not provided with clear explanations for this," the ministry said.

Russia's embassy to Georgia has protested against what it considers unlawful arrests of Russian servicemen.

The Foreign Ministry denounced the arrests as acts of provocation, pre-planned with the aim of thwarting recent positive advances in dialogue with Georgia, including on military issues.

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