Another train with Russian military hardware leaves Batumi base
( RIA Novosti ) - A train carrying military equipment left a Russian base in Georgia early Thursday as part of a 2006 deal on the withdrawal of Russian bases from the ex-Soviet Caucasus state, a Russian military official said.
"The train is carrying military hardware, including 44 military vehicles, from the 12th Russian military base in Batumi on the Black Sea," a spokesman for the Russian Ground Forces, Colonel Igor Konashenkov said.
He said another eight trains and a truck convoy would continue removing military hardware from Batumi to Russia and the 102nd base in Gyumri, Armenia, until the yearend.
Under an agreement between the former Soviet allies, Russia must complete the removal of its base in Batumi by the end of 2008.
Russia completed the pullout of its military garrison from the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, handing over control of its headquarters to Georgia's Defense Ministry last December, and formally handed over its military base at Akhalkalaki in southern Georgia to Tbilisi in June, ahead of the October 2007 deadline.
Russia's continued military presence in the South Caucasus nation has been a major source of controversy in bilateral relations with Georgia. The country's leadership has repeatedly accused Russian authorities of providing support to separatists in the breakaway Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which Tbilisi is determined to bring back under its control.