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Russia Says Troops To Leave Tbilisi Early


http://gdb.rferl.org/85B5A2E8-8BAF-44D5-921E-DAFCC65BB652_w203.jpg --> http://gdb.rferl.org/85B5A2E8-8BAF-44D5-921E-DAFCC65BB652_mw800_mh600.jpg Guards at the Russian military headquarters in Tbilisi (epa) October 11, 2006 -- Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov says all Russian troops based in Tbilisi will be pulled out ahead of schedule.


Ivanov said that the entire garrison of some 390 soldiers and more than 480 civilians will leave Georgia before the end of this year because of what he called the "wise" policies of the Georgian government.


His comments, made on October 10, come amid the worst crisis in bilateral relations in years, triggered by Georgia's expulsion of four alleged Russian spies.


Ivanov also reiterated assurances that Russia will vacate its two bases in Georgia, at Batumi and Akhalkalaki, by the end of 2008 as planned.


He said Russia is not seeking to annex or incorporate Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia but also said that Russian peacekeepers there will not leave until all sides in the conflict demand that it withdraw.


(RIA Novosti, Interfax, AP)

Moscow And Tbilisi

Russian military hardware being withdrawn from a Russian base in Batumi, Georgia, in August 2005 (TASS)

WHAT COMES NEXT? Although Russia is unlikely to push an aggressive military response to the current tensions with Georgia, it has a number of economic, political, and diplomatic options at its disposal. Already on October 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin summoned his inner circle to weigh Moscow's options... (more)


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