by C. J. Chivers
New York Times, April 3, 2009
TBILISI, Georgia — Nearly eight months after the war between Russia and Georgia, Russian troops continue to hold Georgian territory that the Kremlin agreed to vacate as part of a formal cease-fire, leaving a basic condition of that agreement unfulfilled.
The Russian military, working with the governments and the small military forces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, two separatist regions in Georgia, has stationed forces in two large swaths of territory that were under Georgian control before the war. Observers and diplomats say Russia has also used attack helicopters and stationed tanks in areas where none existed before the war.
The sustained Russian military presence on land captured last summer — evident during two recent days spent in the area by two reporters — provides a backdrop of lingering disagreement between the West and Russia at a crucial time: The Obama administration is pledging to recalibrate the relationship with Russia, restore cooperation in other areas and explore a new treaty on nuclear arms.