Russian peacekeepers withdrawn from Georgia

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Moscow, Oct 9: Russia has completed the withdrawal of its peacekeepers from a buffer zone in Georgia near South Ossetia. ''The last convoy of arms and military equipment crossed the border at 1200 hrs IST on Wednesday, Oct 8. The convoy was escorted by OSCE representatives,'' RIA Novositi news agency reported the commander of the Russian peacekeepers in the region Gen Marat Kulakhmetov as saying.

''During the day we withdrew all six peacekeeping observation posts along with the personnel, arms, hardware and materiel from the southern border of the security zone,'' he said. ''By so doing we performed our obligations for the withdrawal of the posts that was supposed to be completed by 10 October," he added.

Speaking earlier at an international security conference in France, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said Russia wanted some 200 EU observers in the area to ''act as guarantors'' to prevent any further hostilities.

On the sidelines of the gathering, French President Nicolas Sarkozy said his Russian counterpart had 'kept his word' over Georgia.

Mr Sarkozy, who brokered the peace deal in early August, warned that both Russia and Georgia ''must now refrain from any provocation on the ground.'' Mr Medvedev and Mr Sarkozy, agreed in September that Russia's full withdrawal from undisputed parts of Georgia would come not more than 10 days after the European Union deployed at least 200 observers in the buffer zones near South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

The EU teams were deployed on October 1.

Russia launched a five-day military operation to 'force Georgia to accept peace' after Georgian troops attacked breakaway South Ossetia on August 8, killing a number of Russian peacekeepers and hundreds of civilians.

On August 26, Russia recognised South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another breakaway Georgian republic, as independent states.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia broke away from Georgia following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s amid armed conflicts that claimed thousands of lives.


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