Russia says it has formally withdrawn all its soldiers from Georgia, closing its last military base in the Caucasus nation. Russian troop presence in Georgia has long been a source of irritation between the two neighbours. Georgia, which declared independence as the Soviet Union crumbled in 1991, has stormy relations with Moscow. It accuses Russia of supporting separatists in the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
After shutting a base in Akhalkalaki in June, this week’s pullout from Batumi comes amid heightened tension. As Russian troops leave, President Mikhail Saakashvili, who wants his country to join NATO, continues to blame Moscow for fomenting
unrest in Georgia. Russia denies this. Facing his worst-ever political crisis, the Georgian leader has declared a state of emergency. It is due to be lifted tomorrow.