Russian-Georgian border crossing reopened

The sole border crossing between Russia and Georgia, called Verkhny Lars in Russian and Darial Gorge in Georgian, reopened at 7:00 am local time this morning following a brief ceremony.

The crossing had been closed for three years. The re-opening is the result of international mediation. The border crossing is the only one that that does not entail travelling through the Russian-backed rebel Georgian regions of South Ossetia or Abkhazia. Russia closed the checkpoint in 2006 in retaliation against Tbilisi for making overtures to the West.

The re-opening of the border crossing is seen as a first modest step towards improved relations between Russian and Georgia. The countries currently have no diplomatic relations and no air traffic flies between them.

In the summer of 2008, an armed conflict took place between Russia and Georgia. The Russians attacked when the Georgians tried to recapture the renegade region of South Ossetia.

The re-opening of the crossing is expected primarily to benefit Armenia, which had relied on it for its trade with Russia, its main economic partner.

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