Page last updated at 12:26 GMT, Friday, 15 August 2008 13:26 UK

Russia in control and on the move

By Richard Galpin
BBC News, Poti, Georgia


Caught on camera: Russians explode the Georgian ship

As we watched, a column of Russian military vehicles moved into Georgia's main port of Poti and sealed off the entrance to the military part of the complex.

Troop transporters, armoured personnel carriers and military speedboats are now lined up inside.

Russian helicopters, including a gunship, also flew to the Black Sea port, with one of the aircraft landing briefly.

The Russians stopped us filming and refused to say what they were doing or how long they would stay. This is at least the third time the Russian army has moved into the port.

But we know from what we've seen that they're destroying Georgian military hardware.

Rumbling of vehicles

In the past few days, up to six Georgian navy vessels have either been crippled or sunk.

There are also reports of navigation equipment and computers being destroyed or removed.

Alleged Russian air strike cluster bomb damage in Poti on 11 August 2008
Local residents in the port town of Poti said they were very afraid

The Russians appear to be, to use military jargon, neutralising the threat.

We managed to film a half-sunken Georgian coastguard vessel, which the Russians had blown up with explosives, or possibly shot with a tank.

We've not been able to speak to any Georgian military - there's none around here.

We spoke to local Georgians in the shops and on the streets in the town centre of Poti - they said they were very afraid.

One elderly woman said she couldn't sleep at all at night, fearing the sound of the rumbling of vehicles.

Earlier, we drove to a town called Senaki, about 30km (20 miles) east of here and it seemed the Russians were very much occupying it.

Russian troops take up positions on farmland near Poti on 14 August 2008
Russians appear very much in control, even some in rural areas

They'd certainly taken control of the Georgian military base there and it felt very much like they were in control.

As we drove through we saw columns of Russian military vehicles coming down the street and an artillery position with anti-aircraft guns.

The Russian peacekeepers are allowed to be inside Abkhazia and South Ossetia and in a buffer zone around those two regions.

But here, in Poti, and in Senaki, they're way beyond - according to our calculations - about 10km (six miles) away from the buffer zone.

This is sovereign Georgian territory that the Russian military is moving into and controlling as they carry on operations to destroy military equipment.

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