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‘Russian Pullout Positive, but Struggle far from Over’ – Saakashvili
Civil Georgia, Tbilisi / 22 Aug.'08 / 23:53

President Saakashvili said that Russia had started withdrawing troops from towns deep inside Georgian territory as a result of “enormous international pressure.” He said it was “a positive” trend.

At a meeting of the country’s National Security Council late on August 22, Saakashvili said that a few days ago the capital, Tbilisi, had come close to falling into Russia’s hands.

“But we should have no illusion that the struggle is over,” he said in remarks aired live on Georgian television. “The restoration of Georgia’s territorial integrity is unimaginable without true internationalization of peacekeeping.”

Although Russian troops have withdrawn from the town of Gori and from some other locations, they still control the entrance to the strategic port town of Poti and some other location in western Georgia.

“Our troops were able to prevent the advance of the huge Russian armies for three days, before the world woke up,” Saakashvili said. “Despite our numerous warnings [about a possible Russian invasion], no one paid any attention… I myself could not imagine that such a large-scale incursion would have occurred.”

“It was absolutely impossible to prevent what has happened when no one [referring to the international community] was [prepared to] intervene.”

“But now we have unprecedented international support,” he added.

Saakashvili also warned that “several very tough months” are ahead for Georgia.

“As never before, we now need unity and consolidation,” he said, adding that all political forces in Georgia “with very minor exceptions” had shown unity and had responded adequately to the unfolding crisis.

He also told the government to document “each and every case of ethnic cleansing.” “Each and every perpetrator should be held responsible,” Saakashvili added.

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