Russia withdraws all troops from Georgia

The train carrying the final pieces of Russian military equipment heading out of Georgia has left the country. It had been held up on the border for more than eight hours despite all routine customs checks having taken place.

The Georgian Defence Ministry said the delay to 150 military personnel and their families was caused by “technical reasons”.

Earlier, the Head of the Russian military in the South Caucasus Andrey Popov said they've gone through all the necessary checks but haven't been allowed to move.

“Today last Russian echelon travelling from Batumi to Armenia with remaining armaments and equipment arrived at the station at the border at 2 pm local time. The custom procedures and passport control lasted for five hours. It has never taken that long before,” he pointed out.

“We have already spent more than eight hours at the station. None is willing to explain why we cannot procced. I think they are slowing down the process intentionally to provoke us but we are being patient and waiting for the Georgians to let us go,” Popov added.

Russia has  withdrawn all its troops from Georgia ahead of time. The pullout was originally planned for next year.

The last Russian military base in Batumi was handed over on November 13.

According to the agreement signed in Istanbul the withdrawal was meant to occur much earlier but the bilateral agreement between Russia and Georgia was signed only in 2005. It spelt out an agreed withdrawl date in 2008.

The withdrawal has nothing to do with the current political crisis in Georgia, according to the Russian Ministry of Defence.

The only Russian troops who remain in the region are peacekeepers in the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.