Michael Ware


NR: "The Russian military still flexes its muscle."

Length: 4:12

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Our first look at the destroyed bridge. Michael has also spoken with local residents, who told him that the bridge was destroyed seven hours earlier. The Georgian Vice-Prime Minister says that his people are ready to take up arms against the Russians again if they do not start adhering to the cease-fire. The Russians claim that they need time to collect arms and remove booby-traps set by the Georgians. Mmm-hmm.

RANDI KAYE, CNN ANCHOR: Now the latest on the situation on the ground in Georgia. CNN's Michael Ware is near the city of Gori. Michael, what are you seeing there?

MICHAEL WARE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Randi, what I'm seeing here is the destruction, which is ongoing by Russian troops in what the Georgian government says it not only defines of the newly signed cease-fire agreement but in fact the Georgian government says the Russians have already broken the cease-fire agreement. Now just a couple of hours ago I personally witnessed Russian mechanized infantry not far from where I'm standing right now about six miles out of the Georgian city of Gori. That's in Georgia proper.

But more than that, according to locals, only about seven hours ago that the Russian military destroyed this key railway bridge right behind me. That's clearly another act in breech of the agreement according to Georgia's vice prime minister, Giorgi Baramidze. Now, he says that there's absolutely no point in the Georgian capital Tbilisi making complaints to Moscow about this or about the ongoing presence or as he called it the barbarism of the Russian military here in Georgia because he says there's no point. He's calling for firmer action from the United States, the European community, and the international community at large.

But what I can tell you is that despite whatever agreements have been signed in the diplomatic levels, here on the ground the military standoff continues. The Russian military still flexes its muscles. Not just by its mere presence but by destroying a key railway line that links the capital to the black sea port of Porti and a railway line that carries oil even for foreign companies like BP. And more foreboding than that is that despite the fact that there is few if any real military options left to the Georgians, the Georgian vice prime minister said that if this continues, then his country and his people are prepared to take up the fight again and reignite this conflict if the Russians do not adhere to the cease-fire. Randi?

KAYE: Michael, I'm curious. Given what's going on there, are you seeing any sign at all of the Russian troops pulling out because as we just heard there seems to be some confusion. French President Sarkozy, who helped negotiate this, thinking that once the cease-fire was signed that Russian troops would be moving out immediately but the Russian troops apparently think that they need some time to collect ammunition, weapons, booby traps which they say were put out there by Georgia's troops. Have you seen any sign of withdrawal at all?

WARE: Absolutely not. Quite the opposite, Randi. In fact, we've seen some consolidation of the Russian military position. Now remember there are two fronts for this war. When Russia invaded Georgia just over a week ago they attacked along two axis, one two the west and here in the east. Having been on the western front yesterday, I'm returning again to the eastern front today. As this evidence behind me shows, the destruction of this bridge, the Russians not only continue to operate and maintain their presence but they're exerting their domination. In fact, to some degree they're consolidating. Yesterday on the western front I saw them digging in, which is quite the opposite to withdrawal.

Now, as for clearing mines or ordnance left by the Georgians, I'm sure the Georgian government would argue that that's their responsibility. What it's all now turning upon is the varying definitions under the terms of the agreement of immediate withdrawal. Now, Georgia would like to see that happening today, now. They want Russian troops out but clearly the Russians are in no hurry to go anywhere, Randi, and I'm afraid there's no one or nothing that can really force them to do otherwise.

KAYE: All right. Our Michael Ware for us on the ground there in Gori, Georgia. Thank you, Michael.