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Russian forces boldly dig in

Russian armored vehicles roll between Tbilisi and the strategic town of Gori, Georgia, on Saturday. Russian soldiers are 30 miles from the capital, Tbilisi.

Associated Press

Russian armored vehicles roll between Tbilisi and the strategic town of Gori, Georgia, on Saturday. Russian soldiers are 30 miles from the capital, Tbilisi.

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.

.Fast facts

Developments

Operations continue: Russian troops cut off east-west transportation routes in Georgia by destroying a key railroad bridge that links the Caucasus region to the Black Sea coast, the Georgian Foreign Ministry said Saturday. Russia called the charge an "unverified allegation."

Forced labor: Russian troops and their armed allies forced Georgian men to clean the streets of South Ossetia's bombed-out capital of Tskhinvali on Saturday, avenging Georgia's attack on the breakaway province a week ago, the Associated Press reported.

Times wires

Russian forces boldly dig in 08/16/08 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 4:39pm]

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