IGOETI, Georgia — Russian forces built ramparts around tanks and posted sentries on a hill in central Georgia on Saturday, digging in despite Western pressure for Moscow to withdraw its forces under a cease-fire deal signed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev.
The United States and France said it appeared Russia was defying the truce already. Russian troops still controlled two Georgian cities and the key east-west highway between them Saturday, cities well outside the breakaway provinces where earlier fighting was focused.
President Bush warned Russia Saturday that it cannot lay claim to the two separatist regions in U.S.-backed Georgia even though their sympathies lie with Moscow. "There is no room for debate on this matter," Bush told reporters at his Texas ranch.
But Georgia's Foreign Ministry accused Russian army units and separatist fighters in one of the regions, Abkhazia, of taking over 13 villages and the Inguri hydroelectric plant Saturday.
The villages and plant are in a U.N.-established buffer zone on Abkhazia's edge.
The tense peace pact in Georgia, a U.S. ally that has emerged as a proxy for conflict between an emboldened Russia and the West, calls for both Russian and Georgian forces to pull back to positions they held before fighting erupted Aug. 7 in the other breakaway province, South Ossetia in central Georgia.