On October 9, Russian troops began to withdraw from areas adjacent to the southern borders of Georgia's break-away provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. While this withdrawal was stipulated as part of the cease-fire agreement of September 8th, Russia's failure to withdraw their forces back to the position they held prior to the beginning of hostilities on August 7th 2008 means that Russia has not complied with their obligations.
As internally displaced persons and international observers flooded into the areas adjacent to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, it became clear that Russia had not fully complied with the requirements of the August 12th cease-fire agreement. In fact, the Russians had occupied, and in some cases re-inforced their positions in certain previously Georgian-administered areas. One such area is the town of Akhalgori.
Akhalgori sits in a valley on South Ossetia's periphery, some forty kilometers from the Georgian capital of Tbilisi. Its citizens are Georgian and the valley had been under Georgian government control since Georgian independence from the Soviet Union. On August 17th, five days after the cease-fire, Russian troops and South Ossetian separatists seized the town and its valley.
The Russian military is preventing international monitors and humanitarian assistance organizations from entering the area. The same is true for the Georgian village of Perevi, located outside the South Ossetian regional administrative boundary, and a number of villages in the upper Kodori Gorge in eastern Abkhazia.
U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Daniel Fried said at a press briefing in Geneva that the situation on the ground is not stable, and that the occupation of Akhalgori is a potential flash-point.
Assistant Secretary Fried added that the only Russian forces that should remain in South Ossetia and Abkhazia are those that had been deployed prior to the conflict. Russia, he said, is not yet in full compliance with the cease-fire.