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Georgian troops pull back

Aug. 13, 2008 at 10:46 AM
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TBILISI, Georgia, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Russia reported withdrawal of Georgian troops from South Ossetia and denied it pushed further into Georgia.

While saying they observed a Georgian pullback, Russian officials denied a Georgian claim that 50 Russian tanks were in Gori, a Georgian community near the South Ossetia border, The Times of London reported.

"Georgian forces have begun their pullback toward Tbilisi but no active withdrawal has yet been observed," said Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn, deputy head of the Russian General Staff.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili told CNN Russian forces "are encroaching upon the capital" of Tbilisi, violating the agreement.

Witnesses in Gori told CNN they saw Russian tanks moving into Georgia on a road that leads to Tbilisi. The Russians' destination and objective were unclear, CNN said.

Saakashvili agreed to cease-fire language reportedly dictated by Russian leaders that included demands that Georgian forces withdraw completely from South Ossetia and that Georgian leaders agree not to use force to resolve the territorial dispute between the two nations. Russia also insisted the populations of South Ossetia and a second breakaway region, Abkhazia, be allowed to vote on whether they want to join Russia.

Western governments, meanwhile, said the five-day war altered the landscape in dealing with Russia, the British newspaper reported. The United States canceled a joint military exercise and British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Europe should reassess its dealings with Russia after its "aggressive" behavior in Georgia.

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