There has been little sign yet of Russia’s promised withdrawal of its troops from Georgia.
President Dmitri Medvedev signed a ceasefire deal on Saturday that called for Russian and Georgian forces to pull back to positions held before the conflict flared.
Colonel-General Anatoly Nogovitsyn of Russia’s General Staff said that, in accordance with the peace plan, Russian peacekeepers and accompanying units had begun pulling back to lines in South Ossetia agreed in 1999. The 58th Army, he added, will be returning to Russia.
Russian forces could still be seen in Gori and in other towns less than 40 kilometres from the Georgian capital Tbilisi.
Moscow insisted that it had a right to keep a peacekeeping force in a buffer zone around South Ossetia that stretches 14 kilometers into non-disputed Georgian territory.
Meanwhile a US military official in the Pentagon has said there was evidence that Russia had installed several short-range SS-21 missiles in South Ossetia, which could put Tbilisi within striking distance. Moscow denied the claim.