As the first anniversary of their 2008 war approaches, tensions are elevated between Russia and Georgia, with Russia's defense ministry threatening force unless Georgia stops 'provocations' against the South Ossetia region.
Russia accused Georgia of "provocations" against the South Ossetia region, after reports surfaced on Saturday of mortar fire from Georgia. Shells were reported to have struck the South Ossetia capitol, an instigation that follows on the heels of a recent visit to the region by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden.
Georgia responded to Moscow and termed the Russian commentary as an "undisguised threat."
The South Ossetia region - a break-away from the Georgian nation - is recognized by Russia as an independent region and is protected by the Russian military.
"Such actions seriously worry the Russian defence ministry," the Russian defense ministry said, according to AFP.
"If such provocations posing a threat to the population of South Ossetia and the Russian military continue, the defence ministry reserves the right to use all the forces and means at its disposal."
Georgia has denied the shelling.
"The ministry of foreign affairs of Georgia expresses deep concern and condemns in the most categorical terms the Russian side's militarist statements, which aim at further destabilising the situation and causing the unfolding of a dangerous scenario of events," Georgia's foreign ministry said, according to AFP. "The military rhetoric unleashed recently... shed ample light on Russia's dangerous designs against Georgia."
August 7 marks the one-year anniversary of the conflict between Georgia and Russia over the South Ossetia region.
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden's trip to the region set off a recent round of corrections from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and the Obama administration - after Russian leadership expressed concerns. The Caucasus region has long represented a trigger in tensions between the United States and Russia - as many of the ex-Soviet states have expressed interest in joining NATO.