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Russia blocks Georgia-bound Swiss military supplies

A soldier in Tbilisi, Georgia, the destination of the blocked Swiss supplies.

(Keystone)

The Russian authorities have blocked two trains transporting Swiss military material destined for Georgia.

A Swiss foreign ministry spokeswoman, Daniela Stoffel, said that the rail convoy was carrying trucks, winter clothing and medical supplies, to be used by the prison and customs services of the Caucasus state. Part of it had mistakenly been classified as diplomatic material, she said, and this would be investigated as soon as possible.

Philippe Zahno, a Swiss military spokesman, said that the Russian authorities were reportedly worried the supplies would fall into the hands of Chechen rebels. Russian troops are continuing to battle pro-independence guerrillas in the breakaway republic, which shares a border with Georgia, from where some rebels allegedly operate.

Zahno said that the incident was a simple misunderstanding, and that Russia had received advance copies of the necessary documentation.

Although Switzerland has placed restrictions on the level of its military exports, it has been supplying second-hand material for several years to different countries in post-Communist Eastern Europe. Much of the equipment became superfluous after a reform of the Swiss army which began in 1995.

swissinfo with agencies

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