Georgia: Russians will leave only after razing Gori
In interview with Ynet, spokesman for Tbilisi Interior Ministry laments destruction left in Russia's wake as fighting appears to be nearing end in South Ossetia. 'We expected the Russians to leave, but that didn't happen… and now we're afraid they'll let the Ossetians loots whatever's left,' says Shota Utiashvili
Russian forces will not pull out of Gori until it lays in ruin, Shota Utiashvili laments from his office in Tbilisi. The Georgian Interior Ministry spokesman granted Ynet an interview via telephone Thursday afternoon to discuss the ongoing crisis in the Caucasian nation, just as Georgia announced its withdrawal from the
Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS).
Utiashvili said he expects Russia's military presence in Gori and other Georgian cities to continue over the coming days – and added that his government is helpless to stop it.
"This morning the Russians promised to withdraw, and Georgian police entered the city. They were there for a couple of hours but then the Russians reconsidered and kicked out the Georgian police, and deployed additional troops into Gori," he said.
"We expected the Russians to leave but that didn't happen and what will happen now is that the Russians will destroy the infrastructure of the city, both military and civilian, and we're afraid that they will also let the Ossetians and the Kozaks into the city, to loot whatever's left in it."
Russian troops block road in Georgia (Photo: AP)
Utiashvili noted that at the moment there are no negotiations taking place between Georgian and Russian commanders. "Now the Russians are saying they need an additional two days or something.
Unfortunately there's nothing at all the Georgian government can do. We're talking about massive redeployment of the Russians," the ministry spokesman said.
He recalled that Russia recently began withdrawing its troops from the port city of Poti – only to reoccupy it hours later. "I don't expect anything to happen because they keep breaking their promises. They promise something and then drag their feet."
He said the European Union's willingness to send observers to Georgia would have no immediate impact on the situation. "It will take the EU months, if not years, to agree on a plan and do something on the ground. We keep hearing all these nice words from everybody who supports, but on the ground the Russian military occupation continues. That's a sad fact, but that's how things really are."