Russians dig in despite ceasefire deal
Published 17/08/2008 | 07:27
Russian forces built ramparts around tanks and posted sentries on a hill in
central Georgia, digging in despite Western pressure for Moscow to withdraw its
forces under a ceasefire deal signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
The United States and France said it appeared Russia was defying the truce
Russian troops still controlled two Georgian cities and the key east-west
highway between them, cities well outside the breakaway provinces where earlier
fighting was focused.
``From my point of view - and I am in contact with the French - the Russians
are perhaps already not honoring their word,'' US Secretary of State Condoleezza
Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, said Mr Medvedev had signed the
cease-fire deal and ordered its implementation, but would not withdraw troops
until Moscow is satisfied that security measures allowed under the agreement are
He said Russia would strengthen its peacekeeping contingent in South Ossetia,
the separatist Georgian region at the center of more than a week of warfare that
sharply soured relations between Moscow and the West.
Asked how much time it would take, he responded: ``As much as is needed.''
President George Bush warned Russia that it cannot lay claim to the two
separatist regions in US-backed Georgia even though their sympathies lie with
``There is no room for debate on this matter,'' the president, with Ms Rice,
told reporters at his Texas ranch.
Georgia's Foreign Ministry accused Russian army units and separatist fighters
in one of the regions, Abkhazia, of taking over 13 villages and the Inguri
hydropower plant, shifting the border of the Black sea province toward the
Abkhaz officials could not immediately be reached for comment on the late-night
claim, and there was no information on whether the seizure involved violence.