Russian tanks, shown here in South Ossetia, may disappear from Georgia if that nation accepts Russian demands.
Russia announced Wednesday its willingness to withdraw its remaining troops from Georgia if, and only if, some conditions were met: one, bring international peacekeepers in to replace Russian soldiers and, two, Georgia must sign nonaggression pacts with South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Russia will withdraw its troops from the “buffer zone” it has created in Georgia when they are replaced by international peacekeepers and once the Georgian government has signed non-aggression pacts with the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Moscow’s ambassador to London, Yuri Fedotov said today.
Speaking just before the arrival of the US vice-president, Dick Cheney, in Georgia, Fedotov said he “deplored” the severe criticism of Russia voiced by Gordon Brown and David Miliband in recent days. He also claimed to have repeatedly warned Britain’s Foreign Office about the worsening crisis in Georgia in the months leading up to the conflict that broke out on August 7. He said he had been assured that the Georgian president, Mikheil Saakashvili was “under control” and would not instigate a conflict. The Foreign Office rejected his account.
“I think the European Union is knocking at an open door,” Fedotov said. “I’m not in a position to anticipate the outcome of Monday’s discussion, but if the EU proposes a very clear plan on how to prevent a potential confrontation and further shelling in the territory of South Ossetia ... then its not difficult to deploy 200 or 400 people in the zones and to allow Russia to withdraw its personnel. It depends on political will.”