Russian withdrawal not started: Defense Ministry

MOSCOW Sun Aug 17, 2008 3:52am EDT

Russian servicemen sit on top of an armoured vehicle in the Georgian town of Gori, about 80 km (50 miles) from Tbilisi, August 16, 2008. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday signed a ceasefire agreement ending hostilities with Georgia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia, the Kremlin said. REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

Russian servicemen sit on top of an armoured vehicle in the Georgian town of Gori, about 80 km (50 miles) from Tbilisi, August 16, 2008. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday signed a ceasefire agreement ending hostilities with Georgia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia, the Kremlin said.

Credit: Reuters/David Mdzinarishvili

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia's Defense Ministry said on Sunday it had not yet begun withdrawing troops from Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia.

"It has not started yet. The question of withdrawal is being considered now and the decision will be taken as the situation in the region is stabilized," said a Russian Defense Ministry spokesman.

A Russian commander in Georgia earlier said on Sunday that Russian forces were starting to pull out of Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia and move northwards into Russia.

"What is going on is probably just preparation, not actual withdrawal," said the Defense Ministry spokesman, when asked to comment on these separate reports.

Georgia has demanded the Russian military pull out of Georgia after a ceasefire agreed earlier this week ended a brief war.

(Reporting by Tanya Mosolova, writing by Conor Sweeney; editing by Andrew Dobbie)

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