CBC: A withdrawal of Russian tanks and troops from the conflict zone in Georgia was underway Monday afternoon, according to Russia’s deputy chief of staff, though there were no immediate signs of the pullout. “Today, according to the peace plan, the withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers and reinforcements has begun,” Col.-Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn said in a briefing in Moscow Monday.
Russian troops have controlled a wide swath of Georgia for days, after fierce fighting broke out Aug. 7 in the breakaway Georgian region of South Ossetia. Under a European Union-brokered peace plan signed by both Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili, both sides are to pull forces back to positions held before the outbreak. Media reports from the ground, however, indicated Russian forces were not showing any sign of moving out and instead appeared to be solidifying their positions around the central Georgian city of Gori earlier in the day.
“So far we haven’t seen anyone pulling out. The Russian tanks and troops are still around Gori,” the CBC’s Alexandra Szacka reported from the strategic city, which sits on Georgia’s main east-west road. Szacka said she spoke with Russian soldiers, who appeared relaxed and said they didn’t know yet when they would be pulling out. MORE