In Georgia, fears of Russia aggression amplified by Ukraine war

NEAR THE GEORGIAN-SOUTH OSSETIAN BOUNDARY — The two Russian soldiers ducked to the ground on top of the steep Georgian hills in the breakaway republic of South Ossetia, hoping to elude monitors from the European Union watching their steps through binoculars just hundreds of yards away.


Seconds before, the soldiers, rifles slung over their shoulders, appeared to be passing heavy rocks between one another as they built what the Georgian government and the EU observers said was a blatantly illegal border construction.


This reporter accompanied the EU monitors on a patrol alongside the boundary on Saturday, getting a glimpse at how Russian troops operate in a region they have occupied since invading in 2008.


“I see them,” I said, looking through the binoculars at one of our stops.


“They can see you too,” Marek Szczygieł, head of the EU’s monitoring mission, answered.