Michael Ware


NR: "There's no sign here, on the eastern front, of the Russian soldiers pulling back."

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Michael spends the day in Gori, looking for evidence of a troop pullout, and finds none. In fact, tanks smash through a barrier of Georgian police cars with clear disdain for any peace agreement that may have been signed in Moscow.

KYRA PHILLIPS, CNN ANCHOR: Russia says that today it's begun a withdrawal from Georgia, but hours later there's no indication that Moscow is keeping its word.

CNN's Michael Ware is among the Russian troops and the desperate Georgian civilians, actually, in the occupied town of Gori.


MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: It's already Monday afternoon on Georgia's eastern front. And the nominated deadline for Russia's troop withdrawal has passed. Yet there's no sign here on the eastern front of the Russian soldiers pulling back.

Indeed, this checkpoint is the furthest line of Russian advance, 15 kilometers east of the Georgian city of Gori. Indeed, in some of the Russian positions in the surrounding hills, there are signs of the soldiers digging trenches and camouflaging their tanks and armor with fresh-cut foliage.

Russian withdrawal from Georgia or not, according to the cease-fire, standing here as dusk approaches in the Georgian city of Gori, still under Russian occupation, hundreds and Russian vehicles and their armors vehicles surround me. In this town square, the birthplace of Joseph Stalin, a statue looms high above. At the town hall, desperate Georgians are registering for food rations as the Russian troops still maintain patrols and checkpoints around this city.

While most of the city appears to remain intact, the destruction wrought by this war can still be seen in buildings brought down like this one, that, according to locals, was destroyed by a Russian rocket. The scars of the war are also seen in the eyes and the jittery hands of the few Georgians who still remain.

Gori is an almost vacant city, shops, homes and apartments all shuttered. It is a town of the old and the infirm and but a few sparse families. Russian checkpoints still man the streets, like this one over here, the troopers telling us that they have orders to withdraw at dusk. Everyone now waits until nightfall to see whether those orders are carried through.

Russian armor still firmly inside Georgia as the last light begins to fade, an act of defiance or a precursor to departure? Either way, both sides to this conflict are reluctant to give ground.

Michael Ware, CNN, on the road to Tbilisi.