Russian forces dug trenches and built sentry posts deep inside Georgia on Wednesday, showing few signs they would pull back this week as promised.
Georgian soldiers suggested the Russians were trying to provoke them and justify a resumption of the conflict, which over five days pounded the infrastructure of the former Soviet republic and the morale of its troops.
In the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, President Mikhail Saakashvili said Russia was thinning out its presence in some of the towns it occupies but was seizing other strategic spots.
“What we're seeing now is a clear regrouping and also, again, some kind of deception campaign, saying, ‘Look, we're moving out,'” Saakashvili said.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Charlotte Observer
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has pledged his forces would retreat by Friday to South Ossetia, the breakaway Georgian province at the heart of the war, and a surrounding security cordon.
But there have been few signs of movement other than the departure of a small contingent of Russian soldiers from Gori, a strategically located city in central Georgia.
On Wednesday, much of Georgia remained tense as Russian troops built a guard post out of timber on a hill outside Igoeti, about 30 miles from Tbilisi, and a large Russian convoy rolled near the western city of Senaki.
Russian soldiers also set up what appeared to be semi-permanent camps in at least three places in western Georgia near the Black Sea port of Poti, with dozens of men digging in by armored personnel carriers and trucks.
South Ossetia is recognized internationally as part of Georgia, but Russia says the future of the province is up to provincial leaders – almost certainly more declarations of independence from Georgia.
The parliament of another pro-Russia separatist region, Abkhazia, called on Russia on Wednesday to recognize its independence.
Fighting flared in both regions during five days before Georgia and Russia agreed to a cease-fire.