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Winds Delay Russian Military Pullout From Batumi

Russian troops in Georgia (file photo) 11 August 2005 -- Gale-force winds are delaying Russia's military pullout from the Georgian Black Sea port of Batumi.

But the deputy commander of the Russian armed forces in the Transcaucasus region, Colonel Vladimir Kuparadze, told reporters today that the delay is unlikely to affect the withdrawal timetable.

"We hope the weather will improve during the day, so we can fulfill our task," Kuparadze said. "We need approximately 24 hours -- 48 hours maximum -- to load the cargo on board our ships, so I don't think we will be behind schedule."

Two Russian military transport vessels arrived yesterday in Batumi to remove some 25 tanks and armored vehicles from the Gonio firing range, outside Tbilisi.

The ongoing Russian pullout, which started last month by road, is proceeding without a ratified agreement.

Moscow this year agreed to vacate the two former Soviet military bases it has been maintaining in Batumi and Akhalkalaki, in southern Georgia, by the end of 2008.

(Imedi TV/Civil Georgia)

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