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19 Aug, 2008 10:19

Russia continues to withdraw troops from the conflict zone

Russia says it is continuing to withdraw its troops from the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict zone as stipulated in the six-point peace agreement, despite the Georgian side’s not fulfilling the obligation to pull out its troops in turn.

The withdrawal is expected to speed up after August 22, but the military says progress will depend on the situation on the ground.

“I emphasise that the withdrawal of reinforcement troops is underway. We are currently pulling out rear units and heavy weaponry. We are also clearing withdrawal routes as the Georgian army left a lot of weaponry including tanks on the roads, which is hindering the withdrawal,” said Russian General Staff Deputy Head Anatoly Nogovitsyn at a news briefing in Moscow on Tuesday.

Georgia failing to fulfill its obligations – Russian military

“Although Mikhail Saakashvili put his signature under the six-point plan, committing himself to pull his troops back to their home bases, we can see today that this obligation has not been fulfilled,” said Russian General Staff Deputy Head Anatoly Nogovitsyn at a news briefing in Moscow on Tuesday.

As for the exchange of POWs on Tuesday, Nogovitsyn confirmed Georgia had no more captured Russian servicemen.

According to Nogovitsyn Russia has handed 15 Georgian servicemen over to Georgia and received five Russians in exchange, including two pilots.

“The Georgian side said they have no more Russian POWs,” Nogovitsyn said before adding: “Thus, they have made it clear to us that it is a one-time exchange and Russia has nothing more to expect. And they [Georgia] will give us some list.”

Meanwhile, according to Nogovitsyn, Georgia claims 80 Georgian servicemen are currently being held in Russia.

Nogovitsyn also said three individuals of Arab nationality had been among the Georgian servicemen detained by Russian forces.

“Twenty servicemen in Georgian uniforms were detained outside Poti, and three of them are Arabs,” said Nogovitsyn.

In addition, some Ukrainians fighting on the Georgian side were killed during an operation by Russian forces according to Nogovitsyn.