Russia Said To Impede Monitors

VIENNA -- Russian forces and their separatist militia allies are keeping international monitors out of South Ossetia, according to confidential OSCE documents that cast doubts on hopes for a lasting resolution of the war over the breakaway region.

The documents obtained Friday by The Associated Press say Russian troops stopped some observers from entering South Ossetia as recently as Wednesday. Other Western diplomats warned that Moscow is also blocking attempts to quadruple the size of the observer mission.

One diplomat said talks aimed at securing Russian permission to let the observers move beyond Georgia and have access to South Ossetia and Abkhazia are deadlocked by Russia's refusal to grant unimpeded access to the volatile area to monitors with the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

The European Union has been racing to prepare a separate mission of 200 unarmed observers for Georgia by Oct. 1.

Under an agreement brokered last Monday by French leader Nicolas Sarkozy, Russia would withdraw its forces from Georgian areas outside of South Ossetia and the separatist Abkhazia region after the EU observers are in place.

The Kremlin's actions at the OSCE "throw into question the sincerity" of Moscow's overall commitment to allow in international monitors and pull back, the senior diplomat said Friday.