Medvedev says military operations in Georgia over
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has declared an end to Russian military operations in Georgia, several agencies in Moscow reported, in a development coming amid Moscow's calls for Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili to stand down.
Interfax, Tass and other agencies reported that Medvedev said Russia was to stop military operations in Georgia.
Medvedev declared that the safety of Russian peacekeeping forces and Russian citizens had been guaranteed, dpa reported.
The Georgian "aggressor" had been punished, the Russian president said after a meeting with the military leadership.
But he said the Defence Ministry had been given orders to resume military operations at any time if any violence would again be perpetrated against the population by South Ossetia.
Moments earlier, at a press conference, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called on Saakashvili to stand down.
"We believe that Mr Saakashvili cannot be our partner in negotiations. It would be better if he went," said Lavrov during a press conference in Moscow with his Finnish counterpart and OSCE chair Alexander Stubb.
The developments came as French President Nicolas Sarkozy arrived in Moscow on his mission to try to achieve an end to the fighting. France currently holds the European Union presidency.
In military developments, the breakaway region Abkhazia said Tuesday its forces have now gained control of most of the Kodori Gorge, previously controlled by Georgia.
Sergei Bagapsh, president of the region located in north-western Georgia, said Abkhazian troops had taken the towns of Ashara and Tchalta and that the forces were advancing.
"The Abkhazian army continues to proceed sucessfully toward the border with Georgia," the pro-Moscow Bagapsh said, according to a report by the Interfax agency.
Till recently the upper Kodori Gorge region had been administered by Georgia, which citing international law insists that Abkhazia is part of its territory.