MOSCOW: Conflicting signals from Russia on the start of its withdraw

Conflicting signals from Russia on the start of its withdrawal from Georgia

ITAR-TASS news agency
30 May 05

Moscow, 30 May: Russia will begin the process of removing its military
bases from Georgia in August this year, the deputy commanding officer
of the Group of Russian Forces in the Caucasus, Vladimir Kuparadze,
said today.

He was commenting on the joint declaration on the withdrawal, adopted
in Moscow by the Russian and Georgian foreign ministers.

“We will begin the process of withdrawal in August, since this applies
to both our bases in Akhalkalaki and Batumi. By agreement with Georgia,
between summer and autumn this year we will remove 40 pieces of armour
including at least 20 tanks by sea to the port of Novorossiysk,”
he said. “The withdrawal of servicemen from Georgia will begin later
because a lot of other equipment, weaponry and various assets remain
at the bases.”

“A timetable for withdrawing the remaining assets and also personnel
will be negotiated later,” Kuparadze added. [Passage omitted]

[The bases in Akhalkalaki and Batumi are “ceasing to perform their
designated functions and will operate in withdrawal mode from the
moment this declaration is signed”, Interfax news agency reported at
1345 gmt, quoting from the text of the declaration.]

[Russian and Georgian experts will start working out the technical
aspects of implementing the Declaration from Tuesday 31 May, ITAR-TASS
reported at 1211 gmt.]

[However, in another Interfax report at 1242 gmt, a source at the
Ministry of Defence in Moscow said the withdrawal would not start
before 2006. “Given that the federal budget for this year contains no
provision for removing the bases from Georgia, the process can begin in
2006,” a “senior Russian military officer” told the agency. “We have
to withdraw not only personnel but also all movable assets including
military hardware,” he said. “One option is to temporarily move some of
this equipment to Russian military base No 102 in Gyumri (Armenia). Let
me point out that handing this equipment to the Armenians is not
under consideration; it will be stationed solely at base No 102.”]

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Emil Lazarian

“I should like to see any power of the world destroy this race, this small tribe of unimportant people, whose wars have all been fought and lost, whose structures have crumbled, literature is unread, music is unheard, and prayers are no more answered. Go ahead, destroy Armenia . See if you can do it. Send them into the desert without bread or water. Burn their homes and churches. Then see if they will not laugh, sing and pray again. For when two of them meet anywhere in the world, see if they will not create a New Armenia.” - WS