Russia plans to maintain grip on Poti, Senaki []

Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 22 Aug.’08 / 18:45

A Russian army map outlining the Russian troops’ planned deployment in Georgia shows they have no intention to give up control over Senaki and the port town of Poti.

In Moscow, the deputy chief of general staff of the Russian armed forces, Anatoly Nogovitsin, showed a map detailing what he said would be “zone of responsibility” of the Russian “peacekeepers.”

This includes checkpoints at Nabada, just outside Poti, and in Senaki, a town less than 40 kilometers away from Poti.

Georgia’s key military base and strategic airfield are located in Senaki.

“Airfield in Senaki is also part of the zone of responsibility of the Russian peacekeepers,” Nogovitsin said.

On the eastern front, in the South Ossetian conflict zone the Russian troops’ “zone of responsibility” includes southern areas from the South Ossetian administrative border. The zone even includes some portions of the Georgia’s major east-west highway – in particular at the village of Shavshvebi and Agara. The town of Gori itself is not part of the zone.

“Our forces will be pulled back to these zones of responsibility today,” Nogovitsin said.

The Russian forces started removing their checkpoints and roadblocks from some of the locations deep inside the Georgian territories, including from Gori and Igoeti. But there was no sign of the Russian troops’ withdrawal from the entrance of Poti.

“We will not and the world will not let the Russian forces to increase their zone activity deep inside the Georgian territory,” Davit Kezerashvili, the Georgian defense minister, said on August 22.

It also emerged on August 22, that Russia plans to keep 2,142 soldiers in Abkhazia as part of its peacekeeping forces.

Nogovitsin said that 109 armored personnel carriers (APC) – BTR-80s and BTR-70s; fourteen APCs of BTR-R145 type and four armored patrol vehicles – BRDM, as well as 34 mortar launchers will also remain in Abkhazia. The military unit in Abkhazia, he said, would also be supported by two Mi-24 combat helicopters and two Mi-8 helicopters.


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