Russia’s plans to position large troop garrisons in Georgia’s separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia threaten to further undermine the truce in the ongoing crisis in the South Caucasus.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said earlier this month that around 7,600 Russian troops will be stationed in South Ossetia and Abkhazia – 3,800 troops in each region. A cease-fire agreement that French President Nicolas Sarkozy brokered, and which President Medvedev and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili signed on August 14th, requires Russian and Georgian forces to pull back to positions they held before hostilities broke out on August 7th.
The United States is extremely concerned by statements from the Russian government indicating that Russian forces will remain permanently in South Ossetia and Abkhazia. “The ceasefire agreement signed by Presidents Medvedev and Saakashvili obliges Russian troops to withdraw to the positions they held on August 6th,” said U.S. State Department Spokesman Sean McCormack. “Any additional deployments of Russian armed forces beyond their pre-August 7th positions,” he said, “would constitute a violation of the ceasefire.”
President Medvedev’s comments that around 7,600 troops will be permanently deployed to Abkhazia and South Ossetia are “in clear contravention to the ceasefire agreement,” said U.S. State Department Spokesman McCormack. The United States insists that Russia honor its commitment.