Russian Troops Withdraw From Georgia

5 10 2008

Russian troops began dismantling checkpoints in Georgia on Sunday in compliance with a ceasefire agreement reached last August, European Union ceasefire monitors said.

As part of the deal to end the five-day war, Moscow agreed to withdraw its forces completely from the buffer zones just outside South Ossetia and Abkhazia within 10 days of the deployment of EU monitors last Wednesday.

About 200 European Union observers have been deployed to monitor the ceasefire and the Russian pull-back.

EU monitors and journalists watched as Russian troops lowered their flag at the post in the village of Nadarbazevi, 50 kilometres northwest of the capital, Tbilisi.

A checkpoint in Ali, in the zone around South Ossetia, was also dismantled on Sunday and Russian forces were leaving another position in Zugdidi, in the zone south of Abkhazia, said Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman Shota Utiashvili.

Georgian and EU officials could not immediately clarify how many Russian positions in total would have to be dismantled to meet the agreement’s terms. After the war, Russia said it would set up a total of 36 checkpoints in the security zones — 18 in each.


Georgia Claims to Have Hit Russian Drone Over Georgia

23 09 2008

Georgia says its military has shot down a Russian reconnaissance drone that was flying over Georgian territory – a claim denied by Russia.

The unmanned plane was downed south of the de facto border with breakaway South Ossetia, the Georgian government said, though no evidence was provided.

Russia dismissed the claim as “another media provocation by Georgia”.

Russia recognised the independence of South Ossetia after a short war broke out over the territory last month.

Russia has been withdrawing from Georgia proper under a ceasefire deal.

European Union monitors have been deploying in Georgia, to verify the Russian withdrawal and oversee the ceasefire. They are due to start patrolling on 1 October.

Georgia accused separatists from Abkhazia, a second breakaway region also recognised by Moscow, of breaching the ceasefire and shooting dead a Georgian police officer on Sunday.

Russia to Keep Troops In Georgia

9 09 2008

Russia says it will keep 7,600 troops in Georgia’s breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia after withdrawing from the rest of the country.

On Monday, Russia agreed to withdraw its troops from positions within Georgia, taken up during the recent conflict, by mid-October.

But the Russian president ordered troop bases be set up in the regions.

Russia’s foreign minister said the troops were expected to remain in place “for the foreseeable future”.

“They will be there a long time,” Sergei Lavrov said from Moscow.

“This is absolutely necessary, so as not to allow a repeat of armed actions,” he added.

Mr Lavrov said that both regions – which Russia has now recognised as independent – should also be able to participate in talks on Georgia scheduled for next month in Geneva with “fully fledged” places.

Russia ‘Ends Georgia Operation’

13 08 2008

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered an end to military operations against Georgia, the Kremlin says. He told officials that the safety of Russian citizens and peacekeepers in South Ossetia had been restored.

Russia also backed an EU plan to end the five-day-old conflict. Envoys will now try to get Georgian approval. Each side continues to accuse the other of breaking ceasefire accords, and analysts warn that the two remain far apart on a number of issues.

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said it was vital that all sides cease fire, adding that Russian military operations “really do now need to stop because calm needs to be restored”.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, in his current role as EU president, held talks with Mr Medvedev in Moscow for most of the day yeasterday. In a joint news conference, they said a six-point peace plan had been agreed by Russia and would now be taken to Georgia. The deal included a pledge to pull troops on both sides back to their pre-conflict positions, and a plan to begin international discussions about the future status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. If Georgia agrees to the plan, Mr Medvedev said the “path to a gradual normalisation” in South Ossetia was open. But during the same press conference, Mr Medvedev called Georgian troops “lunatics” and accused Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili of lying over a previous ceasefire agreement.