Faced with a growing international outcry against Russia's invasion of Georgia, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has pledged to withdraw Russian troops. The announcement comes amid ongoing reports of Russian troop movements and destruction of Georgian infrastructure.
A Kremlin statement described the withdrawal only in general terms. It would appear that the troops are not returning to Russia. Medvedev instead announced that the "Russian contingent" in Georgia proper would begin on August 18 to pull back to the "security zone" established by the Joint Control Commission -- an entity comprising Russia, South Ossetia - that has been the primary forum for the Ossetian peace process since 1999. Troops would also be stationed in South Ossetia.
International pressure has been steadily building for Moscow to comply with the terms of a recently signed six-point cease-fire proposal and immediately pull its troops out of Georgia. The push for peace has brought a rotating line-up of senior US and European officials and heads of state to Tbilisi.
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Elizabeth Owen is EurasiaNets Caucasus news editor in Tbilisi. Giorgi Lomsadze is a freelance writer based in Tbilisi.