Signposts on South Ossetian Border Leave Farmland and BP Pipeline under Russian Control

Russian occupying forces illegally placed signposts marking the so-called “border” on the territory adjacent to the village of Tsitelubani, Gori municipality, and the village of Orchosani, occupied Akhalgori district, near Georgia’s main highway, on July 10.

Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement announcing that as a result of illegal border installation, certain segments of the British Petroleum (BP) - operated Baku-Supsa pipeline [near Orchosani] now fall within the territory under Russian control.

“We urge the international community to make relevant evaluation of the actions that are aimed against peace and security, and which violate the fundamental principles of international law. We will raise this issue in the UN and OSCE. We will use all international levers not to leave the Russian provocation without a relevant response,” the statement said.

The Baku-Supsa pipeline (833km), also known as the Western Route Export Pipeline (WREP), with a capacity of 145,000 barrels a day, runs from Azerbaijan to the Georgian Black Sea terminal of Supsa, and is operated by British Petroleum (BP).

The pipeline runs through the center of Georgia, where there is a greater risk of conflict. On August 12, 2008, BP shut down the Baku-Supsa pipeline as a precautionary measure, after Tbilisi informed them that Russian jets had targeted a BP-operated key oil pipeline in a weekend bombing raid in Georgia.

Georgia’s Ministry of Internal Affairs (MIA) has expressed deep concern about the Russian placing of border markers and called it a "deliberate provocation aimed to destabilize the situation”.

“We urge the international community to make a relevant evaluation of the actions that are aimed at destabilization and putting stability and peace in danger,” the MIA statement said.

See the screenshot of the map, showcasing where above mentioned territories are located.

Locals in Tsitelubani said that the location where the border markers were placed cuts parts of their farmland, leaving them outside Georgian control.

The local population alleges that the signs lay claim to 70 percent of the village, insolently appropriating 10 hectares of agricultural land.

Russian so-called border guards warned the locals that they are not allowed to use the land any more. The locals also claim that they lost not only agricultural land, but pastures as well and now have to sell their cattle to survive.

Representatives of the MIA went to the Gori region to monitor the situation after Russian border guards placed signs marking the breakaway South Ossetian border on July 10.

The head of the information-analytical department of the Ministry, Shalava Enukidze, emphasized that the Interior Ministry is taking measurements with specialized devices.

“Various groups from the MIA are engaged in the measurement process. We will have exact information shortly,”Enukidze said.

Meanwhile, marking borders by putting barbed wire fences was first started by the border guard troops of the Russian Federal Security Service in April-May 2011, when fences were installed in an immediate vicinity of the villages of Didi Khurvaleti and Kveshi, southeast of Tskhinvali.

Later, a new wave of intensified fencing efforts by the Russian troops took place in 2013, from February, in the village of Ditsi, where metal fencing posts were installed in late May about 120 meters deep into the Tbilisi-administered territory.

Also, in the village of Dvani, southwest of Tskhinvali, moving of the administrative border deeper into the Tbilisi-controlled areas resulted in cutting off local residents from an irrigational water supply.

Tamar Svanidze, Nino Japarashvili

12 July 2015 15:01