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Pentagon Not Convinced Russian Withdrawal from Georgia Has Begun


The Pentagon says it is too early to determine whether small scale Russian troop movements out of Georgia are the beginning of a real withdrawal, or just a public relations ploy. VOA's Al Pessin reports from the Pentagon.

Reporters in Georgia say they have seen several dozen Russian military trucks heading north toward the border, but they have not seen any heavy military equipment or artillery pieces on their way out. Pentagon Spokesman Bryan Whitman says he has only seen media reports about movements around a key Georgian town, and is not convinced this is the beginning of the full withdrawal Russia has promised to make.

"There are reports of some movement out of Gori, and we're going to have to see whether or not that is the beginning of a true withdrawal of if this is some sort of token effort designed for you and others to report on," Whitman said. "We'll see. I think it's too early for us to determine whether or not this is really the Russians committing to withdrawing their forces."

Russia's president signed the ceasefire and withdrawal agreement on Saturday, and U.S. officials say Russian troops should have already largely withdrawn.

Whitman also said U.S. officials have complained to Russia about the taking of several U.S. military vehicles from the Georgian Port of Poti. The jeep-like Humvees were awaiting shipment out of Georgia after being used in a training exercise. Whitman says the issue remains "unresolved."

The Pentagon spokesman also reports the U.S. humanitarian airlift to Georgia has delivered a total of 240 metric tons of aid, mainly medical supplies, tents, bedding and food. Also on Tuesday, a State Department spokesman said Turkey has agreed to allow two U.S. Navy ships and one from the Coast Guard to transit into the Black Sea to deliver larger quantities of aid.

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