Russian soldiers stood guard at checkpoints deep inside Georgia’s heartland on Saturday, drawing accusations from Washington that Moscow’s military pullback did not match up to what it had promised.
Russia says it will permanently station what it calls peacekeeping troops inside Georgia to prevent new bloodshed, but Georgia and its Western allies suspect the Kremlin will use the force to keep a stranglehold on the ex-Soviet state.
Moscow sent in troops after Georgia tried to retake its breakaway South Ossetia region. Russia crushed Georgian forces and pushed on further, crossing the country’s main East-West highway and moving close to a Western-backed oil pipeline.
Convoys of Russian tanks, armored personnel carriers and soldiers left their positions on Friday and headed back into rebel-held territory — a redeployment Russia said complied with a French-brokered ceasefire deal.
But Reuters reporters saw Russian soldiers digging trenches near Georgia’s main Black Sea port of Poti, while Moscow said it had set up checkpoints in a “security zone” extending beyond South Ossetia into undisputed Georgian territory.
“It is my understanding that they have not completely withdrawn from areas considered undisputed territory and they need to do that,” White House spokesman Gordon Johndroe told reporters.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said he was “deeply concerned” that Russian forces had … >>>