Georgians wait for Russian troop withdrawal

By
August 18, 2008 12:58

Hungry and uncertain, beleaguered residents in Gori and other occupied Georgian cities waited anxiously Monday for Russian forces to begin their promised pullout from Georgia after a short but intense war that shocked the West. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has promised the withdrawal under terms of an EU-backed cease-fire agreement, but how quickly the troops will leave is unclear, as is exactly where they will redeploy. The agreement calls for troops to withdraw to positions they held before fighting broke out Aug. 7, but also provides for unspecified extra security measures such as patrol rights for the soldiers Russia calls peacekeepers. Russian troops and tanks have controlled a wide swath of Georgia for days, including the country's main east-west highway, on which Gori sits. The RIA-Novosti news agency reported that some Russian military vehicles were heading Monday out of the South Ossetian capital of Tskhinvali toward Russia, but there was no official announcement of troop movements. Russia is certain to keep some troops in South Ossetia - which wants to separate from Georgia - and the region's president Eduard Kokoity on Monday asked Russia to establish a permanent base there, the agency said.


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