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Russian peacekeepers will stay in the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict zone until both parties to the military standoff ask them to leave
Russia's defense minister said Tuesday that Russian peacekeepers will stay in the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict zone until both parties to the military standoff ask them to leave. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, speaking at the UN in September, demanded a full withdrawal of the Russian contingent from the conflict zone. "They will be there until both internationally recognized parties to the conflict ask us to leave," Sergei Ivanov, who is also a deputy prime minister, said. He said Russian peacekeepers have always been accused of failing to fulfill their mandate. "They have been there for about 15 years, and have been fulfilling their mandate," he said. South Ossetia declared independence from Georgia following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and a bloody conflict ensued in the region. The current Georgian leadership is determined to bring the separatist region back under its control, and shootouts are not uncommon.
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