Russia continues its withdrawal from Georgia

Russian soldiers are continuing their pull out from Georgia in line with an EU-brokered ceasefire. Under the terms of the agreement, Moscow has until today to withdraw, particularly from five checkpoints around the Black Sea port of Poti.

It then has until the 10th October to return troops to their pre-conflict positions, but the Kremlin says it will keep more than 7000 soldiers in Abkhazia and South Ossettia to protect Russian nationals living there.

In Brussels, EU foreign ministers are putting the finishing touches to a 200-strong observer mission due to be deployed in Georgia by October.

The Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov hinted during a landmark visit to Abkhazia that Moscow may insist on the breakaway regions being included in future talks:

“What is going on in South Ossetia and Abkhazia has nothing do with the international community, it is the business of the states involved,” he insisted.

Lavrov, who is due in South Ossetia today, also criticised Western support for Georgia’s hopes of NATO membership. Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer is expected in Tbilisi later today to assess the situation and its implications for Georgia’s application.

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