8 Oct 2008

Russia starts troop pullback from Georgia

9:35 pm on 8 October 2008

Russian troops started pulling back from a buffer zone outside Georgia's breakaway South Ossetia region on Wednesday following a five-day war.

It has been reported that 10 Russian military trucks and several armoured vehicles have left the Karaleti checkpoint next to South Ossetia.

The military column headed north towards the de facto border with South Ossetia.

Russia has until Friday to pull back troops from buffer zones outside South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another breakaway region, that were established after the war between Russia in Georgia in August.

The deadline was set under a ceasefire deal brokered by France, which holds the European Union's rotating presidency, after Russian tanks and troops repelled a Georgian offensive to retake South Ossetia from pro-Moscow separatists.

The war in August followed months of skirmishes between separatists and Georgian troops. Russia drove the Georgian army out of South Ossetia, which threw off Tbilisi's rule in 1991-92.

Russian troops then pushed further into Georgia, saying they needed to prevent further Georgian attacks.

The West has condemned Russia for a "disproportionate response" to Georgia's actions and has repeatedly demanded that Moscow pull its troops out of core Georgia.