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Moscow Says Some Troops to Stay Put
Babel-Fish | August 22, 2008 at 04:41 pmby
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POTI, Georgia — Russian soldiers were at work digging positions outside Georgia's main Black Sea port city of Poti on Thursday at the same time Moscow maintained that its soldiers were on schedule to pull out of the country proper by Friday.
Western governments, meanwhile, continued to call on Moscow to remove its forces faster, in line with the truce agreement signed between Russia and Georgia.
The conflicting events and comments appear to have been fueled by different understandings of what constitutes a buffer zone around the breakaway Georgian republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in which Russian peacekeepers are allowed to operate.
"We are standing within the Collective Forces for Peacekeeping Zone, which extends south to the Rioni River and east to Senaki and the Inguri Dam," said a Russian lieutenant colonel, who would only give his name as Innokenty.
"We are carrying on our peacekeeping operation. We are not fighting," said another lieutenant colonel, who refused to give his name because he was not authorized to speak to journalists.
At the same time, he argued that there was no peace yet. "The aggressor — Georgia —has not been pacified," he said.