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Explosions in Georgian towns as Russian forces remain

Jon Swaine
London Telegraph [1]
Thursday, Aug 14, 2008

Earlier claims that Russian troops had commenced a withdrawal from Gori were dismissed as at least five explosions were heard in the town. Journalists were forced to leave by a Russian soldier firing shots into the air. Troops are also thought to have returned to the strategically important port town of Poti.

A Georgian spokesman said: “The Russian troops are destroying the city of Gori. They are mining the city. They are destroying everything in Poti port. They are destroying the newly built roads in western Georgia.”

Reports of the explosions came as Sergei Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister, reinforced suspicions that Moscow is expecting to set its own punitive terms for peace. He said: “One can forget about any talk about Georgia’s territorial integrity because, I believe, it is impossible to persuade South Ossetia and Abkhazia to agree that they can be forced back into the Georgian state.”

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Earlier Ms Rice threatened Russia with international isolation unless it keeps to the plan, which was brokered by Nicolas Sarkozy, the French President, and calls for a return to the status quo that prevailed before the conflict, triggered by Georgia’s attempt to reclaim South Ossetia, a breakaway province, and for the respect of Georgian sovereignty.

Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian President, has made clear that the Kremlin would be making additional demands, including the eviction from the rebel provinces of all Georgian troops, and increased Russian presence in both the enclaves and “buffer zones” surrounding them.

Full article here [1]