Page last updated at 16:09 GMT, Monday, 10 August 2009 17:09 UK

Kremlin bill on using army abroad

Russian soldiers
The bill says troops can be used to protect Russian citizens abroad

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has introduced a bill to parliament that would allow the country's armed forces to intervene beyond Russia's borders.

The bill would allow Russian troops to be used abroad "to rebuff or prevent an aggression against another state" or "protect Russian citizens abroad".

Mr Medvedev said the bill was linked to last year's war with Georgia over South Ossetia, Russia's Interfax reports.

Moscow said it was protecting Russian citizens in South Ossetia.

The war began on 7 August 2008, as Georgia tried to retake control of its breakaway region, following a series of clashes.

Russian forces quickly repelled the assault and pushed further into Georgia.

The conflict lasted for five days before a ceasefire was agreed. Russia pulled back, but built up its military presence in both South Ossetia and another breakaway region, Abkhazia.

'Addressing issues'

On Monday, Mr Medvedev said the new bill was "linked to the well-known events that happened last year", according to Interfax.

"We very much hope that these events do not happen again but the issues need to be addressed," he said.

If approved, the bill would augment an existing law allowing the president to use Russian special military units abroad.

Under the law adopted by MPs in 2006, the president must notify lawmakers of any such operation, but the unit size, location and timing can be kept secret.

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