Russia praises EU over sanctions

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has welcomed as "realistic" an EU decision not to impose sanctions on his country over its recent invasion of Georgia.

But Mr Medvedev said it was "sad" that the EU, which held a crisis summit, still did not understand what motivated Russia into sending in troops.

EU leaders agreed to suspend talks on a strategic pact with Russia until its troops were withdrawn from Georgia.

Tensions between Russia and the West soared in the wake of the conflict.

In an interview with the Euronews television channel Mr Medvedev said the outcome of the EU meeting was "double-edged".

"Firstly, unfortunately, there is still no understanding of what motivated Russia to make decisions on repelling the Georgian aggression and recognising South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states," he said.

But, he added, a "reasonable, realistic point of view prevailed because some of the states were calling for some mythical sanctions".

Moscow says that it sent troops into Georgia to halt an attempt by Georgia to restore control over South Ossetia, which broke away in the 1990s.

EU condemnation

Following Monday's emergency summit in Brussels, EU Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso said it was clear it could not "continue as if nothing had happened".
European leaders had been deeply divided on how to respond to Russia's intervention in Georgia, and aware - as Moscow's main trading partner - of their dependence on Russian gas and oil.

The EU agreed to condemn Russia's move to recognise the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

It also announced it was prepared to send hundreds of civilian monitors to Georgia to check if Russia was abiding by the EU-brokered ceasefire agreement.

Under the agreement, Russia must pull back its troops to their positions before the conflict.

Russia's foreign ministry expressed "regret" over the EU's decision to suspend talks on a strategic pact with Russia.

"Moscow over the past two years has got used to artificial obstacles to this document," the ministry said in a statement.

"There were calls from some states to impose sanctions on Russia and freeze relations," it continued, adding: "The main thing, however, is they are in the minority and the majority of EU countries have manifested a responsible approach."

Russia's press claimed a diplomatic victory in sidestepping economic sanctions with a headline in the Vremya Novostei newspaper reading: "The EU reprimanded Russia only in words."


French President Nicolas Sarkozy, who helped broker the accord, is due to travel to Moscow and Tbilisi next Monday along with EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana for talks with the Russian and Georgian governments.
Speaking after the summit, Mr Sarkozy - whose country is the current holder of the EU presidency - said the crisis meant the bloc had to re-examine its relationship with Russia.

"The EU would welcome a real partnership with Russia, which is in the interests of all, but you have to be two to have a partnership," he said.

UK Foreign Secretary David Miliband, in an article published on Tuesday, said Russia would suffer politically and militarily for its intervention in neighbouring Georgia.

"It has made short-term military gains, but over time it will feel economic and political losses. If Russia truly wants respect and influence, it must change course," Mr Miliband wrote in the Irish Examiner.

China was urging Russia and Georgia to resolve their conflict through "dialogue and consultation", foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu told journalists in Beijing.

Fighting between Russia and Georgia began on 7 August after the Georgian military tried to retake the breakaway region of South Ossetia by force.
Russian forces launched a counter-attack and the conflict ended with the ejection of Georgian troops from both South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Do you think the EU made the right move?
L Gilbert
They are politicians. Pols rarely make the right move.
Last edited by L Gilbert; Sep 2nd, 2008 at 11:06 AM..

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