Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev said during a telephone conversation with his French counterpart Nicolas Sarkozy on Sunday that Russia's troops would start their withdrawal from Georgia on August 18.
Georgia launched a major ground and air offensive to seize control of the breakaway republic of South Ossetia on August 8, prompting Russia to send tanks and thousands of troops to the region. Russia concluded its operation "to force Georgia to accept peace" on August 12.
"After receiving an order for a withdrawal from South Ossetia, we have started to load [military equipment] and are preparing to move," a senior Russian officer in the South-Ossetia-Georgia conflict zone said.
According to Russian figures, around 1,600 civilians were killed and over 34,000 fled the region, mostly to the neighboring Russian republic of North Ossetia, during Georgia's attack on Tskhinvali.
Medvedev signed on Saturday a French-brokered peace plan for the region. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili signed the plan on Friday.
The plan, worked out at an August 12 meeting between Medvedev and Sarkozy, contains six principles for the resolution of the South Ossetian conflict.
These are renouncing the use of force, halting all military action, providing free access to humanitarian aid, the return of Georgian Armed Forces to their bases, the return of Russia's Armed Forces to their positions prior to combat, and the start of international discussions on the future status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and on ways to ensure their security.
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