Georgian Defense Minister Irakli Okruashvili said the withdrawal process of Russian military bases in Georgia is “unstoppable.”
Officials in Tbilisi say that a September 30 statement made by commander of Russia’s North Caucasus military district Alexander Baranov about suspending the pullout from Georgia is part of Moscow’s “hysteria” in response to the detention of four Russian officers charged with spying.
“The Russian military will leave Georgia in accordance to the schedule which has been agreed on [between Russia and Georgia on March 31, 2006]. By the end of 2007 there will be no Russian military equipment in Batumi… No one can stop this process,” Okruashvili told reporters in Batumi.
According to the Georgian Ministry of Defense, Russia has already fulfilled its commitments under the March 31, 2006 agreement and withdrawn all the military equipment planned for this year. The remaining military hardware in the Batumi military base should be withdrawn by October 1, 2007 and military personnel should vacate the Akhalkalaki base in the course of 2007; while the Headquarters of the Group of Russian Troops in the Trans-Caucasus should be closed down in a course of 2008, according to the agreement.