"The military contingent in South Caucasus will remain on high alert until we can report to the commander of the North Caucasus military district that there are grounds and conditions allowing us to change the combat readiness status," Major General Andrei Popov said.
The Russian troops in the region were put on high alert after a crisis in relations between Tbilisi and Moscow erupted Wednesday when Georgian authorities arrested several Russian officers they accused of spying.
The general earlier said that according to Russian law, military bases abroad are treated as Russian territory, and any attack on them by a foreign state is considered an act of aggression against Russia, which must be countered by any means necessary.
"In the event of a contingency situation or a provocation, troops are ready to counter them by any means necessary, including shooting to kill," he said.
He also said that the withdrawal of Russian bases from Georgia would continue according to agreed schedule. Russia has agreed to complete the pullout of its bases in the southern city of Akhalkalaki and the western city of Batumi by 2008.
"The withdrawal of military bases will continue according to schedule as the Russian president announced and according to agreements between the two parties, meaning by 2008," Popov said.
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For Russia, Crimea is more than just a territory. It is not for land that Russia is putting all her prestige at stake. This situation is about wounded national pride, history, identity, national phobias, a new Russian nationalism, past relations with the “West” full of real and perceived injuries, and Western hypocrisy.