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9 Oct, 2008 13:01

Russian troop withdrawal complete

The full withdrawal of Russian peacekeepers from the buffer zone between Georgia and South Ossetia has been completed, with all Russian checkpoints closed.

The peacekeepers left the territory within seven hours in broad daylight so that European observers could witness the process. There are two hundred of them at the territory adjacent to South Ossetia at the moment. Their mission is to maintain peace and stability in the area.

According to Tbilisi, Georgian police will also be patrolling the territory.

The pullout fulfills the conditions of the Medevdev-Sarkozy plan. It follows a promise by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, made at the First World Policy Conference in France, that the Russian peacekeeping contingent would leave the security area by the end of Wednesday.

He also said that EU observers have been deployed in the zone, along the perimeter of the borders of South Ossetia and Abkhazia with Georgia.
“We want them to live up to their functions and act as guarantors of the non-use of force, who could prevent any provocation on the part of the Tbilisi regime. This is what we agreed upon with the European Union,” he said.
By now all 6 Russian checkpoints have been dismantled. Bulldozers are not flattening the area where they used to be. Russian peacekeeper withdrawal started on October 1, when European observers started to arrive to take over.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Security Council has extended the mandate of UN observers in border areas between Georgia and Abkhazia till February 15 2009. The UN mission has been stationed in the region for the last 14 years.