RIA Novosti, Russia
June 10 2005

Russia unable to pull out military bases from Georgia before 2008 -
Russian lawmaker

MOSCOW, June 10 (RIA Novosti) - Russia will not be able to complete
the pullout of its military bases from Georgia until 2008, as is
stipulated in a joint statement of both countries' foreign ministers,
signed in Moscow on May 30, a prominent Russian lawmaker told
reporters on Friday.

Russia will meet the 2008 deadline only "with half the vehicles
discarded and people not accommodated after the pullout," said
Gennady Gudkov, a member of the Security Committee in the lower house
of the Russian parliament, after a Duma visit to the bases, part of
which he was.

"We will need 3.5 to 4 years to withdraw heavy combat vehicles alone.
While it is possible in Batumi (Adzharia), because the sea is close,
it is unclear how to pull out [vehicles] from Akhalkalaki (on the
Armenian border)," Gudkov said.

"From Akhalkalaki, the vehicles will not get to the sea because the
bridges will collapse. Between Akhalkalaki and Batumi, only six
bridges out of 16 will not collapse under battle tanks," he said.

Gudkov added that approaches to most military sites are
mine-infested, and a demining effort will take at least two years.
Some vehicles and munitions stored there are subject to destruction,
rather than withdrawal, but the Russian-Georgian statement does not
stipulate how it will be done.

Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov had said
previously, "The pullout of Russian military bases from Georgia will
be completed in 2008."

According to the minister, the Russian-Georgian statement divides the
pullout into three stages: pullout of heavy combat vehicles, pullout
of the personnel, and handover to the Georgians.

From: Emil Lazarian | Ararat NewsPress