September 8, 2008

Russia to Exit Georgia, Not South Ossetia

French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced Monday that Russian troops would soon exit Georgia but would remain in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Sarkozy said the pullout would be accomplished within a month and that Russia had agreed to withdraw from its positions between the Georgian towns of Poti and Senaki within a week.

The RIA Novosti news agency said Sarkozy added that with the withdrawal timetable set, there was no reason not to move forward with next month's talks on relations between Russia and the rest of Europe.

The New York Times said analysts saw Monday's agreement as a strategic move by Moscow to blunt European support for Ukraine joining the European Union. Talks on that topic begin Tuesday.

Analysts also saw the agreement as bolstering the position of nations such as Germany that had argued against isolating Russia as punishment for its foray into the disputed Georgian territories, the Times said.