Page last updated at 02:21 GMT, Sunday, 21 September 2008 03:21 UK

Putin defiant on Caucasus troops

French PM Francois Fillon (L) and Vladimir Putin
Mr Putin (R) was speaking after meeting French PM Francois Fillon

Russia will not consult Western nations or Georgia when deciding how many troops to post in the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said the decision was down to Russia and the "states" involved.

Moscow recognised the two regions as independent following a brief conflict with Georgia last month.

The comments seem to disregard pledges made by Russia in the ceasefire agreement that ended that conflict.

As part of the deal Russia agreed that its troops should return to pre-conflict positions.

Moscow has already announced plans to keep about 8,000 troops in the regions - far more than were there previously.

And analysts say the comments from Mr Putin, who was speaking after meeting French Prime Minister Francois Fillon, appear once again to disregard the agreement.

"As you know, we recognised South Ossetia's and Abkhazia's independence in the same way as many European countries recognized Kosovo's independence," he told Russian TV.

"The question of our armed forces' presence on these territories will be agreed on bilateral basis, in line with international law and on the basis of agreements between Russia and the states in question."

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