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Russia Begins Military Pullout From Georgia

Russian troops in Georgia have had Tbilisi officials on edge (file photo) 30 July 2005-- Russia today began withdrawing its troops from bases in Georgia, marking a key step in resolving a long-standing dispute between Tbilisi and Moscow.

A deputy commander of the Russian forces in Georgia, Vladimir Kuparadze, said the more than 10 military vehicles that left a Russian base in the Georgian Black Sea port of Batumi were scheduled to reach the border on 31 July.

The start of the pullout was scheduled to begin yesterday but was delayed as some drivers had not received visas to return to Georgia.

Officials say the removal of Russian military hardware and personnel will continue in the weeks ahead.

After long negotiations, Russia this year agreed to close two military bases by the end of 2008.

Georgian officials have long sought the withdrawal, and at least one senior official in Tbilisi, Georgian parliamentary speaker Nino Burdjanadze, recently suggested Moscow was guilty of encouraging internal conflicts in Georgia.


See also:

"Georgia/Russia: Withdrawal Agreement Clears First Hurdle"

"Georgia/Russia: Base Deal Seen As Mutually Acceptable Compromise"

"Tbilisi, Moscow Continue To Negotiate On Bases"