MOSCOW – Russia will pull its troops out of Georgia proper in one month, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev pledged Monday, but only after international monitors deploy around the breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Russia agreed to the withdrawal after receiving a security guarantee that Georgia would not attack the Russian-backed republics, said Medvedev, who appeared alongside French President Nicolas Sarkozy after talks in Moscow. Abkhazia and South Ossetia are seeking independence from Georgia.
Under the agreement, 200 international monitors are to take up posts in Georgia just outside the republics by Oct. 1. Within 10 days of the international deployment, the Russian troops are to withdraw.
The deal allows both leaders to point to victory: Medvedev collected a Georgian guarantee against using force; Sarkozy negotiated a Russian withdrawal on behalf of the European Union, which he currently leads.
In their televised news conference, Medvedev and Sarkozy appeared eager to show that the spike of diplomatic hostilities between Russia and Europe had eased. Each took pains to confer some legitimacy upon the other’s arguments.
The European Union’s behavior has been “on the whole, fairly balanced,” Medvedev said.
“Everything is absolutely clear,” Sarkozy said. “We want partnership and peace, and hardly anybody wants a confrontation between Europe and Russia.”
Skirmishes flared into full-blown war one month ago, when Georgia launched its military operation in the rebel province of South Ossetia, home to Russian peacekeeping troops and residents who carry Russian passports. The aggression drew the crushing wrath of Russia, which sent thousands of troops, tanks and fighter jets to shatter Georgia’s U.S.-trained military.