Conflict & Justice

Russia to retain presence in Georgia

(What are you seeing?) I've spent most of the day in the furthest most village that Russian forces got to, it's about 22 miles from the capitol. The day started much the same as any other day this week with Russian troops sitting around. Then in the afternoon there was a lot of activity and the soldiers started packing up their checkpoint and then they left in the direction of South Ossetia, and they joined a huge column of Russian vehicles going in the same direction. (Russia has said it will continue to control this buffer zone. Where is this zone and what's its significance?) no one knows where this buffer zone is at the moment and Russia has a different idea of where it is from Western governments. Russia has said it'll maintain this zone to keep the security of South Ossetia, and that's probably what Washington is referring to when it says there hasn't been a full pullout. (Russian and Georgian officials seem to have different interpretations of what this international ceasefire says. What does the ceasefire say?) The basic points are that hostilities should cease immediately which has happened. Then we get into the question of both sides withdrawing to pre-conflict positions. That would seem straightforward but Russia has added a proviso which allows them to take measures before an international peacekeeping force can be deployed in order to secure South Ossetia. (How would you gauge the level of tension at this point?) I think there will be a lot of diplomatic wrangling if Russia continues to keep its buffer zones on Georgian soil. That said, speaking to soldiers, the sides were managing to get along pretty well. Both sides said they had no appetite for conflict and they were here because of big politics. There was of course quite a lot of civilian destruction on both sides though.

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