Russia has secretly moved one of its borders, pinching a small strip of land from Georgia on the eve of crucial G20 talks between Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump.
According to media reports, Russia troops illegally moved a border sign into a village called Bershueti on Monday.
The move saw Russia pinch about 10 hectares of what was Georgian soil.
The audacious move has largely gone unnoticed but came just before Putin and Trump had their first meeting as leaders, on Friday.
It also comes at the same time as reports of 2,500 Russian troops massing close to the Estonian and Latvian borders. Both countries are in NATO.
The Georgian government said the border move had affected local farmers and called Russia’s swoop illegal.
“This is a continuation of the illegal process of the so-called borderization, which not only violates the fundamental rights of local residents but directly damages the security situation,” a statement from the Georgian state security services said.
Gerogia’s president Giorgi Margvelashvili said he was outraged by the land grab.
Relations between world power Russia and tiny Georgia, a nation of just four million people in the Caucasus, are poor.
The countries went to war briefly in 2008.
There was condemnation of Russia’s border move this morning by
Kurt Volker, a former US representative to NATO, told BBC Radio 4 that Russia has behaved generally “aggressively” in the last few years and added: “Neither can Russia act unilaterally such as they did the other day just moving the borders inside Georgia and having no one reacting to that – that’s not something that should go on.”
He called on the West to stand up to Moscow.
“I believe Russia would back away from any nuclear confrontation because it knows it would not survive.
“Russia is in a much weaker position but it has managed to play a weak hand very aggressively – because it has counted on the fact we are not going to respond in any assertive way.”