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More Russian Mouths To Feed?

11 a.m. local time (7 a.m. GMT)

The Kvartskhava cows have gone missing. The family searched far and wide before reluctantly approaching Nabada, a much-frequented pasture for livestock before Russian troops arrived last month and set up one of Poti's two remaining checkpoints. But when family members approached the Russian positions to ask whether they'd seen the cows, the soldiers were approachable and responsive; they said they'd actually seen the animals fall into the Rioni River and drown. The Kvartskhavas remain skeptical, fearing that their cows might have been slaughtered to feed the soldiers.

Such suspicions are fueled by reports that troop levels have increased recently at the checkpoints. Local authorities previously estimated their number at around 60; now they say the figure might be closer to 100. None of the residents know for sure. But if the ranks of soldiers have swelled, they'll be needing more food.

Offices, banks, and pharmacies are open; public transportation is running as usual. Building renovations that have nothing to do with the fighting are continuing, new pavement is being poured. More people are returning to Poti, too.

Importantly, the Russian troops keep to themselves for the most part, they don't come into town. I guess that's as near to normal as we can expect, for now.