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U.S. Says No Sign of Russia’s Major Withdrawal
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 21 Aug.'08 / 23:16

The White House said Washington was not satisfied with the developments on the ground and with the pace of Russian forces withdrawal.

“The Russians need to honor their commitment,” Gordon Johndroe, the White House spokesman, told journalists on August 21. “They made a commitment to withdraw; we expect them to withdraw.”

“If there is any withdrawal it's very limited. And there are opposite reports that suggest there are new, additional troops, or troops that may be digging in… What we know is accurate is that the withdrawal is not happening very quickly, if it, in fact, has begun. The withdrawal needs to take place, and needs to take place now.”
 
The U.S. Defense Department spokesman Bryan Whitman also said there was no sign of major withdrawal.

“There has not been much evidence of any significant Russian withdrawals. There have been, what I would call, some minimal movements to date,” he said.

French Foreign Minister, Bernard Kouchner, meanwhile, said on August 21, that it seemed there was a sign that Russia was beginning fulfillment of its commitment.

“We are waiting ... for the Russians to respect their word,” Kouchner told reporters in Paris, The Associated Press reported. "We waited twice with dashed hopes. This time, it appears that there is at least the beginning of a fulfillment.”

He was referring to some reports saying that some Russian troops and military vehicles were on the move, including 21 tanks heading toward Russia from inside South Ossetia.

At the news conference on August 21, the White House spokesman was asked to specify what did the “use of disproportionate force” – a term often used by the western officials when describing Russia’s intervention into Georgia – meant.

“The Russians had and have peacekeepers in South Ossetia. We can understand their desire to protect their peacekeepers,” Johndroe, the White House spokesman, said. “What is – what was, what is disproportionate is the systematic destruction of the Georgian military and Georgian military infrastructure, as well as civilian infrastructure. If the goal of the Russians was simply to protect Russian peacekeepers, then we do not understand why, and therefore, think it disproportionate, that they moved out of South Ossetia, out of Abkhazia, and into what is considered undisputed Georgian territory.”

He also said that NATO has already suspended cooperation with Russia until the situation in Georgia is resolved.

“I can't imagine a circumstance right now that we would engage in military cooperation with the Russians until the situation in Georgia is resolved,” he said. “Right now the Russians are making some decisions that are not in line with a commitment to become a part of a Europe, whole, free and at peace.”

“There will be further consequences to Russia's action, there's no doubt about it. But Russia has already, I think, begun to suffer some of the consequences of their actions. And their continued reluctance to adhere to the withdrawal plan only further isolates them.”

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