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Russia continues pullout from post-Soviet bases in Georgia

RIA Novosti

07/06/2007 15:06 TBILISI, June 7 (RIA Novosti) - A train carrying military hardware left a Russian base in Georgia early Thursday as part of a 2006 deal on the withdrawal of Russian bases from the ex-Soviet Caucasus state, the Georgian Defense Ministry said.

The 34-car train is carrying armored vehicles, tanks and ammunition weighing some 243 metric tons to Russia. More military hardware will be removed from Batumi, on the Black Sea, each week until August 2007, the ministry said. The next train will depart June 14, the ministry said.

Under the agreement between the former Soviet allies, Russia must complete the removal of its bases in Batumi and Akhalkalaki, in the south, by the end of 2008.

It completed the pullout of its military garrison from the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, handing over control of its headquarters to Georgia's Defense Ministry, last December.

Georgia's Western-leaning leadership, which is seeking to join NATO, is uneasy about Russia's continued military presence and has repeatedly urged Moscow to close its Soviet-era bases.

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