Russia's Medvedev promises further support to breakaway Georgian regions on war anniversary

MOSCOW (AP) — Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pledged Sunday to provide further support to breakaway Georgian regions on the anniversary of the Russian-Georgian war.

"Two years ago today, Georgia provoked a bloody conflict," Medvedev said in televised remarks. "This day will forever remain in our memory as a day of mourning and the day when Russia made a decision to protect peaceful civilians."

Medvedev addressed Russian troops stationed in the key Black Sea port of Gudauta in Abkhazia — one of the two separatist provinces whose independence Moscow recognized after the brief war in August 2008.

The conflict erupted after Georgian troops tried to regain control over the other province, South Ossetia. Separatist authorities and Moscow accused Georgia of genocide.

Russia quickly deployed thousands of troops in both provinces, securing its presence in the strategic region that lies between the Caspian and Black seas and is close to Iran.

The war sent Moscow's ties with the West to Cold War levels. Moscow's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia remains a major source of tensions between Moscow and Washington. Only three other nations consider the regions independent.

The regions spun out of Georgia's control in the early 1990s after a series of violent conflicts that was followed by massive deportations and ethnic cleansing on all sides.

Medvedev arrived in Abkhazia Sunday to hold talks with the Kremlin-friendly separatist government.

He said Moscow will boost investment in Soviet-era resorts to turn Abkhazia into a magnet for Russian tourists.