August 18th , 2008, 11:33.
Russian military forces are beginning their pull-out from the Georgian-South Ossetian conflict zone and will return to their previous positions defined by their peacekeeping mandate. The withdrawal is part of a six-point peace plan drawn-up by Russia and France and follows a weekend conversation between their leaders, Dmitry Medvedev and Nicolas Sarkozy.
However Russian troops are no longer acting under the assumption that South Ossetia is a part of Georgia, so will go to the border between South Ossetia and Georgia. Some troops will remain stationed in Tskhinvali.
Local people are not treating the news of Russia’s exit favourably, as most Ossetians perceive them as saviours. There are fears among some of them that if the Russians leave, Georgia might launch another attack.
Nonetheless, it is hoped that the withdrawal will help bring stability back to South Ossetia.
Life there is already beginning its attempts to return to some sense of normality.
According to Russia's migration ministry, out of 37,000 refugees that left for Russia during the conflict, 8,000 have already returned to South Ossetia.
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