Russia pledge on Georgia pull-out – Russia Giorgia Confict

 

 

Russian tank in Georgia (16 August 2008)
Moscow’s troops continue to operate deep inside the Caucasus republic

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said forces will begin withdrawing from Georgia on Monday.

Mr Medvedev made the pledge in a telephone call to French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who brokered a Russian-Georgian ceasefire agreement.

Earlier, the Russian commander of frontline forces in Georgia told the BBC a gradual withdrawal of Russian forces was under way.

Russian troops went into Georgia after fighting erupted over South Ossetia.

Maj Gen Vyacheslav Borisov said he had given the order for Russian soldiers in the village of Igoeti, about 32km (20 miles) from the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, to be replaced by Russian peacekeepers.

The scene in one area of central Gori

The BBC’s Gabriel Gatehouse in Gori, the largest town close to the South Ossetian boundary, says there is a much-reduced Russian military presence in Gori compared with Saturday and that lorries can be seen delivering humanitarian aid.

 

But he says Russian soldiers still control the town’s key entry and exit points.

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The Russian commander in Gori says his troops are staying to prevent looting and will leave when Georgian police are ready to take over.

Georgia says its police force would be able to maintain law and order if allowed into Gori, and that the presence of Russian forces so close to the capital is unacceptable.

Russia also controls almost all of the main highway running east-west through Georgia, and major towns along the route.

The conflict between Georgia and Russia erupted on 7 August when Georgia launched an assault to retake South Ossetia, an enclave within Georgia controlled by pro-Russian separatists.

It led to a massive counter-offensive, with Russia moving deeper into Georgia.

International attention

In his phone discussion with President Sarkozy, Mr Medvedev did not clearly state that additional troops sent to Georgia since 7 August would return to Russia.

Correspondents say this suggests some troops may retreat only as far as South Ossetia.
Source BBC News

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