Michael Ware


NR: "Russian forces, as of this moment, remain in control of the city of Gori."

Length: 3:43

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Newsroom replays a stand-up originally done for International. Michael describes the Russian army troops who have just left the road outside Gori.

TONY HARRIS, CNN ANCHOR: CNN has deployed its vast international resources to bring you all of the angles on this developing story. CNN's Barbara Starr is covering the humanitarian efforts, Michael Ware is outside the Georgian city of Gori, and Jim Bittermann is following diplomatic efforts.

Let's begin with Jim in Paris.

HARRIS: Let's go inside Georgia now and the city of Gori. It has been a nerve center of rising tensions, and to some degree remains in limbo even today.

CNN's Michael Ware is there and spoke to our colleagues at CNN International just a short time ago.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: I'm literally standing on, for what it's worth, the front line in this conflict. Where I am at this moment is virtually on the city limits of that flash point city that you referred to: Gori.

Now, just moments ago Russian special forces troops were right here and they've only just moved back into the city. So we can confirm that despite confusing and contradictory reports coming from all sides, that Russian forces, as of this moment, remain in control of the city of Gori.

Now, there's untold number of reports of what's going on in the city and within its outskirts, none of which are able to be confirmed. However, there had been a number of carjackings of journalists and others who have attempted to enter the city. And for now, the Russians have put a firm roadblock and are preventing any entry into the city of Gori.

Now, this by and large cuts Georgia's main artery from its capital Tbilisi to its port town. Now, if you recall President Bush has stated categorically that the U.S. expects Russia to maintain the lines of communication for humanitarian assistance, including the seaports.

Now, cutting this major artery certainly inhibits that access. Whilst there are other routes, this very much is the main artery that humanitarian aid would most likely use running in to the capital Tbilisi.

But what we can tell you, as I repeat, is that the Russian forces are firmly in control of the Georgian city of Gori, which is just outside one of the two disputed enclaves, this one being South Ossetia -- Andrew?

ANDREW STEVENS, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR: Well, that's right. But just to clarify, Michael, Gori is actually in Georgian country proper, if you like. It's not in that break away province of South Ossetia.

Now, we've been hearing reports over the last two or three hours of explosions rocking the city of Gori. I don't know whether you are in an area where you could hear or whether you've been able to confirm anything that's been happening as far as those explosions are concerned.

WARE: Well, I can tell you that there's a number of dark smoke plumes that are rising in and around the area of the city. I cannot account for what they are. But what we're hearing from both sides most recently is that those explosions are controlled detonations of munitions. It's impossible to confirm that.

However, on the approach leading to this city, you can see, for what it's worth, a rag tag series of columns of Georgian military. Now, it's a mix of infantry, some very light armor, some artillery pacers, and amounts to no more than perhaps a brigade against what's amassed from the Russian army, which is far superior.

So by and large, the route to the capital Tbilisi is well and truly open to the Russians. And the forces that we've seen are in no position to defend either this road nor the capital itself.


HARRIS: Okay, that was CNN's Michael Ware.