x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Russian troops leave Georgia

Russian troops close five posts in western Georgia and leave in the direction of the Abkhazia rebel region.

Russian troops move along a road outside the Georgian town of Zugdidi on Sept 13 2008. Russian troops withdrew from the region around Georgia's Black Sea port of Poti within a Sept 15 deadline set for the first phase of a pullback brokered by France.
Russian troops move along a road outside the Georgian town of Zugdidi on Sept 13 2008. Russian troops withdrew from the region around Georgia's Black Sea port of Poti within a Sept 15 deadline set for the first phase of a pullback brokered by France.

Russian troops closed five posts in western Georgia today, that Moscow had promised to dismantle, and left in the direction of the Abkhazia rebel region. Russian troops closed camps in Nabada and Patara Poti, outside the strategic Georgian port of Poti, as well as in Teklati and Pirveli Maisi, near the town of Senaki, and Russian columns were seen heading towards Abkhazia. The camp at Nabada, which had been used to monitor maritime traffic from Poti, counts as two posts according to a Sept 8 agreement between Russia and the European Union in which Moscow agreed to dismantle the posts.

A convoy left Nabada at 7.45am and troops left Patara Poti fifteen minutes later, leaving behind trenches and earth embankments. An AFP journalist later saw the posts at Teklati and Pirveli Maisi were closed too. "They will leave. They are going to Abkhazia," said a local police official, referring to one of two Russian-backed Georgian rebel regions at the heart of last month's conflict between Russia and Georgia.

Under the agreement between the Russian president, Dmitry Medvedev, and his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy, the current EU chief, Russia has until Monday to dismantle five posts along the line from Poti to Senaki in western Georgia. Russia is to withdraw its remaining forces from Georgia, except in the two separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, by Oct 10, and the EU will send at least 200 observers into Georgia, according to the agreement.

Russia poured troops and armour into its southern neighbour last month after Georgia launched a military offensive to regain control of South Ossetia. After routing Georgia's small army, Russian forces dug in deep inside the country, setting up posts near Poti, a major Black Sea port, and Senaki, located along Georgia's main east-west transport corridor, among other places. * AFP