Russia in final pull out from Georgian buffer zone
Russian forces quit posts in buffer zones around separatist regions of Georgia Wednesday in their final withdrawal from positions held since Russia's war with Tbilisi two months ago, reported dpa.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said the pullout from zones around Abkhazia and South Ossetia would be complete by midnight Wednesday.
A mission of unarmed European Union observers is monitoring the pull back.
Marat Kulakhmetov, commander of the Russian peacekeeping forces in the region, said troops had already abandoned all six of their checkpoints around South Ossetia.
Moscow has until Friday to withdraw it forces, under an EU- brokered ceasefire hammered out by French President Nicolas Sarkozy to end the five-day conflict. An EU mission of 300 monitors is to replace the Russian presence in the buffer zones.
But Russia plans to keep 7,600 troops in each of the breakaway regions, which it recognizes as independent republics after blocking Tbilisi's August offensive to reassert control.
Russia's actions were overwhelmingly condemned by the West, ramping up international security tensions and raising concerns about the safety of oil and gas transits to Europe through the volatile region.
Speaking on Wednesday at a summit with EU leaders in the French city of Evian, Medvedev praised the EU's level-headed role in seeking a resolution to the conflict.
A peace conference is set for October 15 in Geneva, when the broader issue of Georgia's long term security is to be debated.
Russia's foreign ministry said Wednesday it would push for an arms embargo on Georgia in the talks.