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.


Government to Supply Taiwan With $6bil of Weapons

4 10 2008

The US government has notified Congress of plans to supply Taiwan with arms worth more than $6bn (£3.4bn).

The sales include advanced interceptor missiles, Apache helicopters and submarine-launched missiles.

Correspondents say the decision is likely to anger China, which regards Taiwan as its territory and opposes US military support of the island.

The move could also complicate efforts to get North Korea, an ally of Beijing, to end its nuclear programme.

The US Defence Security Co-operation Agency (DSCA) said the sales would “help improve the security of the recipient and assist in maintaining political stability, military balance and economic progress in the region”.

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.

All US Troops To Pull Out of Iraq By 2011

14 08 2008

American soldiers will withdraw from cities across Iraq next summer and all US combat troops will leave the country within three years, provided the violence remains low, under the terms of a draft agreement with the Iraqi Government.

In one of the most detailed insights yet into the content of the deal, Hoshyar Zebari, the Iraqi Foreign Minister, has also told The Times that the US military would be barred from unilaterally mounting attacks inside Iraq from next year.

In addition, the power of arrest for US soldiers would be curbed by the need to hand over any detainee to a new, US-Iraqi committee. Troops would require the green light from this joint command before conducting any operation.

The Pentagon refused to comment last night on the proposals laid out in the draft agreement between Baghdad and Washington that covers the status of US forces beyond 2008. Britain will strike its own deal with Iraq but Gor-don Brown hopes to withdraw most British troops from Iraq by next summer, reducing the number of soldiers from 4,100 to “a few hundred” by then.

Isreael’s Suspicious Military Moves

20 06 2008

Israel carried out a major military exercise earlier this month that American officials say appeared to be a rehearsal for a potential bombing attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.

Several American officials said the Israeli exercise appeared to be an effort to develop the military’s capacity to carry out long-range strikes and to demonstrate the seriousness with which Israel views Iran’s nuclear program.

More than 100 Israeli F-16 and F-15 fighters participated in the maneuvers, which were carried out over the eastern Mediterranean and over Greece during the first week of June, American officials said.

The exercise also included Israeli helicopters that could be used to rescue downed pilots. The helicopters and refueling tankers flew more than 900 miles, which is about the same distance between Israel and Iran’s uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, American officials said.