Explosion severs Azerbaijan-Georgia-Europe fuel railway link

The train hit a mine Sunday, Aug. 24 at the village of Skra, 5 km west of Gori, on the main track of the railway line linking Eastern and Western Georgia – a vital trade route for oil exports from Azerbaijan to European markets.
Responsibility for the sabotage has not been determined. The blast deals a serious blow to Georgia’s efforts to recover from its ten-day war over South Ossetia in the face of the continuing Russian military presence.
Georgian officials suggested Russian forces which pulled out of the area two days ago left a road mine on the railroad.
Azerbaijan restored its oil consignments via Georgia only two days ago; their interruption during the fighting robbed the Saakasvhili government of valuable revenue, which the attack has suspended again.
In another development Sunday, the guided missile destroyer USS McFaul docked at the Georgian port of Batumi carrying supplies such as blankets, hygiene kits and baby food. Two more US ships are due to dock later this week.
The American vessels were supposed originally to put in at the Black Sea port of Poti, 80 km to the north, but changed direction to avoid meeting Russian troops who are fortifying their positions at Poti further up the coast.
Russia says it entitled to keep its forces in a buffer zone around the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, citing the truce and other international agreements as covering unspecified “additional security measures,” over and above their pre-conflict positions. French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Moscow claims, approved the buffer zones which they organized before the ceasefire was signed (as revealed by debkafile on Aug. 17)
Russia acknowledges that Poti is outside the ceasefire’s terms and its peacekeeping mandate.
Saturday, the Russian missile cruiser Moskva returned to its base in Ukraine. debkafile reported on Aug. 20 from official Russian sources that the warship was part of a large flotilla heading for the Mediterranean port of Tartus in Syria.
The defense ministry in Moscow later detached the Moskva from the contingent and sent it back to the Black Sea.

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