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NATO warns Russia


Western powers send tough message; Russian minister responds -   August 20, 2008
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Precis

NATO allies warned Russia on Tuesday that the alliance's cooperation with Moscow would depend on the pullout of troops from Georgia. They insisted Georgia remained on track to join NATO despite Moscow's opposition. The emergency meeting in Brussels highlighted a rift within the 27-nation bloc between former Soviet satellite nations wanting tough action against Russia and western European members warning against antagonizing Moscow. In an editorial from The Independent newspaper entitled “NATO is walking a tightrope over Georgia” Anne Penketh states that “[NATO] foreign ministers want to send a tough message to the Kremlin, but the big powers know that they cannot afford to isolate Moscow which remains an essential partner for the US and Europe in dealing with other major crises such as the showdown with Iran over its nuclear programme.”

Transcript

NATO warns RussiaNATO warns Russia

Producer: Zaa Nkweta

ZAA NKWETA (VOICEOVER): NATO allies warned Russia on Tuesday that the alliance's cooperation with Moscow would depend on the pullout of troops from Georgia. They insisted Georgia remained on track to join NATO despite Moscow's opposition.

JAAP DE HOOP SCHEFFER, SECRETARY GENERAL, NATO: There can be no business as usual with Russia under present circumstances, and the future of our relations will depend on the concrete actions Russia will take to honor the words of President Medvedev to abide by the six-point peace plan.

NKWETA: The emergency meeting in Brussels highlighted a rift within the 27-nation bloc between former Soviet satellite nations wanting tough action against Russia and Western European members warning against antagonizing Moscow. The NATO allies also agreed to strengthen relations with Georgia by creating a special consultative body. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice underlined the need for an international peacekeeping force in the region that suggested they should not include Russian elements.

CONDOLEEZZA RICE, US SECRETARY OF STATE: There will need to be an international peacekeeping force as a part of a broader resolution of the conflicts in both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, because there will have to be a peacekeeping force that is neutral. I think it's quite clear that Russia has become a party to this conflict.

NKWETA: Russia's foreign minister criticized NATO on Tuesday. Addressing a news conference in Moscow, Sergey Lavrov insisted Moscow was not occupying Georgia and had no plans to annex the separatist Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

SERGEY LAVROV, RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTER (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): Russia hasn't occupied anyone, is not planning to occupy anyone. We don't have any plans to annex anyone's territory. We are fulfilling, through our peacekeeping forces, those functions set out in the agreements signed by conflicting sides, including Georgia. In this case it is not the NATO countries who are telling Mr. Saakashvili what actions he should take, which correspond to NATO's high standards, but it is Mr. Saakashvili who is dictating to the democratically developed countries, including NATO countries, what they must do in order to satisfy his ambitions.

NKWETA: In the port city of Poti, Russian soldiers purportedly captured Georgian servicemen at a key port. The Associated Press could not independently confirm their country of origin. A small column of Russian tanks and armored vehicles withdrew from the strategic Georgian city of Gori on Tuesday in the direction of South Ossetia. The move was part of Russia's pullback mandated by a ceasefire that required both sides to return to positions held before fighting broke out on August 7 in South Ossetia, Georgia. In an editorial from The Independent newspaper entitled "NATO is walking a tightrope with Georgia," Anne Penketh states that NATO foreign ministers want to send a tough message to the Kremlin, but the big powers know they cannot afford to isolate Moscow, which remains an essential partner for the US and Europe in dealing with other major crises, such as the showdown with Iran over its nuclear program.

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