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Georgia says all its arms purchases legal


TBILISI, January 22 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia has breached no international laws in buying weapons abroad, the country's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday in response to a Russian ban on arms sales to its South Caucasus neighbor.

"Georgia has been strengthening its defense capability in the framework of international agreements, treaties, and conventions," the ministry said in a statement.

It added that "all of Russia's attempts to impose an international embargo against Georgia at the UN or the OSCE have failed."

Russia recently banned exports of military products and dual-purpose technology to Georgia. Under a presidential decree, effective through December 1, 2011, the Russian government is to introduce restrictions on military cooperation with countries supplying Russian or Soviet-made arms to Georgia.

Tbilisi has criticized the ban as hypocritical and Thursday's statement accused Russia of supplying "modern arms to puppet regimes" and "militarizing occupied territories."

It also said Russia had suspended its participation in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.

The Kremlin said the decree on arms sales to Georgia had been signed to protect Russia's national interests.

Moscow and Tbilisi broke off diplomatic relations last year after a five-day conflict sparked by Georgia's August 8 attack on its breakaway republic of South Ossetia, which split from Georgia in the early 1990s. Georgian troops were forced from the region and on August 26 Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another separatist republic, on August 26.

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