Russia Lets EU Monitors Into Georgia Buffer Zone

Unarmed patrol allowed near, but not in South Ossetia
By Katherine Thompson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 1, 2008 11:24 AM CDT
A convoy of European Union monitors for Georgia leave their temporary base at the Bazaleti Lake, north of the Georgian capital Tbilisi, Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2008.    (AP Photo/Georgy Abdaladze)
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(Newser) – Russian troops allowed unarmed EU monitors into the buffer zone around South Ossetia for the first time today, after France helped negotiate a truce between Russia and Georgia. The blue-beret-sporting French troops spent 90 minutes touring the heavily guarded area, the Guardian reports. The EU will be sending its monitors to four locations in Georgia as Russia retreats.

"I am optimistic that all parties will comply with the agreement that was signed," said Javier Solana, the EU's head of foreign policy. The arrangement has Russia planning to remove all of its troops from the region, including the buffer zones, within 10 days of the EU monitors taking over. "The situation is very calm," a Russian solider said.