A Russian military convoy thrust deep into Georgia on Wednesday and Georgian officials said Russian troops bombed and looted the crossroads city of Gori, violating a freshly brokered truce intended to end the conflict, AP reported.
In the west, Georgia's weakened military acknowledged its soldiers had pulled out entirely from Abkhazia, leaving both breakaway regions at the heart of the fighting in the hands of Russian-backed separatists.
Even as the Russian troops moved deep into Georgian territory from the separatist region of South Ossetia, a few dozen fighters from Abkhazia offered their own brazen challenge, planting their flag on a bridge over the Inguri River - outside the rebel territory.
"The border has been along this river for 1,000 years," separatist official Ruslan Kishmaria told AP on Wednesday. He said Georgia would have to accept the new border and taunted the departed Georgian forces by saying they had received "American training in running away."
An AP reporter saw several dozen Russian military trucks and armored vehicles speeding out of Gori and heading south, further from the breakaway province of South Ossetia.
Soldiers waved at journalists and one soldier shouted to a photographer takning shots of the convoy: "Come with us, beauty, we're going to Tbilisi." Gori is about a 90-minute drive from the Georgian capital.
The developments came less than 12 hours after Georgia's president said he accepted a cease-fire plan intended to end the fighting that bloodied and battered the U.S. ally and uprooted an estimated 100,000 people.