TBILISI, Georgia - Russia has failed to fully observe a European Union-brokered peace deal that ended last year’s war with Georgia, the EU monitoring mission chief says.
Hansjoerg Haber said Russia has not met an obligation to withdraw its forces to positions held before the August 2008 conflict.
“This is our main problem,’’ Haber said.
Russia also has refused to let EU monitors enter Georgia’s breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Haber said. Moscow has recognized the regions as independent states and kept thousands of troops there.
Russian officials have dismissed such statements by EU officials, saying that Moscow was not obliged to make the moves according to its interpretation of the deal.
Only Venezuela, Nicaragua, and the South Pacific island nation of Nauru have followed Russia’s example in recognizing the breakaway regions as independent states.
The EU sent 200 monitors to patrol areas near Abkhazia and South Ossetia, where tensions have persisted with periodic arrests and claims and counterclaims of illegal activity. Yesterday EU monitors visited the village of Zegduleti in the Gori region near South Ossetia.
Local villagers welcome the EU patrols.
“When I see EU monitors, I feel relieved,’’ said Malkhaz Tservadze, 61, a resident of Zegduleti. “They are on a peaceful mission to ensure our safety.’’