Russian base to be withdrawn from South Georgia by October 2007
13:08 | 31/ 03/ 2006

RIA Novosti, Russia
March 31 2006

SOCHI, March 31 (RIA Novosti) - A Russian military base near the
southern Georgian city of Akhalkalaki will be withdrawn by October 1,
2007, a senior military officer said Friday.

Commander of Land Forces, Colonel General Alexei Maslov said another
Russian base at Batumi, the capital of the northwestern autonomy of
Adjaria, and the headquarters of Russian forces in South Caucasus
would be withdrawn in 2008.

His comments came after the two countries signed a framework agreement
on the withdrawal, which also details the visa regime for military
personal involved in the pullout.

Maslov said the second agreement on the transfer of heavy military
equipment and personnel from Georgia to the 102nd military base in
Armenia was also very important because it would allow Russia to
eliminate the shortfall of materiel at the base.

The decision on the withdrawal of Russian military bases from Georgia
was made at a summit of the Organization for Security and Cooperation
in Europe (OSCE), the world's biggest regional security grouping,
in Istanbul in 1999.

However, the timeframe for the withdrawal has increasingly marred
Russian-Georgian relations, as Tbilisi wanted to see Russian troops
leave as soon as possible, while Moscow insisted that it should be
given more time to avoid repeating the mistakes of the pullout from
eastern Europe in the 1990s. Thousands of soldiers then returned to
their homeland from bases in former Soviet satellites only to find
that there was nowhere for them to live.

Maslov, though, was upbeat after the conclusion of today's talks. "We
have fulfilled all obligations under the Istanbul Agreements," he said.