Russia deploys new air defence systems

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The Independent Online

Russia has deployed its hi-tech air-defence missile systems in the disputed Georgian region of Abkhazia, it confirmed yesterday. The presence of the advanced S-300 system, which can detect, track and destroy cruise and ballistic missiles and aircraft, sent a defiant signal from Moscow to Tbilisi and the West two years after a war with Georgia.

General Alexander Zelin, the commander of Russia's air force, said that air defences of other types had been deployed in Georgia's other Russian-backed rebel region, South Ossetia. He said the defences would also protect Russian bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Eka Tkeshelashvili, Georgia's National Security Council Secretary, said the move showed Russia was "strengthening its military control over these territories".