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Russian soldiers in Georgia (file photo)
16 March 2005 -- A Russian general today said that Russia's two remaining military bases in Georgia will remain operational for a "minimum" of three years.
General Aleksandr Rushkin, the deputy chief of staff, made his remarks today in Moscow. He said withdrawals from the bases at Akhalkalki and Batumi "will not be made shorter under any circumstances."
Rushkin's remarks come Russia seeks to re-open negotiations with Georgia over the future of the two Soviet-era bases. Georgia wants the bases closed as soon as possible.
Earlier this week, Georgian Minister for Conflict Resolution Georgy Khaindrav said Russia could remove the two bases within three to six months.
Last week, parliament passed a nonbinding resolution giving Russia until 1 January to close the two bases, and called for a list of measures to be drawn up against Russia if it doesn't agree to the withdrawal by 1 May.