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Russia warns against action

As EU leaders gather to discuss the incursion in Georgia, Moscow says it won't be cowed.

September 01, 2008|From Times Wire Services

MOSCOW — Russia does not want confrontation with the West but will hit back if attacked, President Dmitry Medvedev said Sunday, a day before EU leaders meet to draft a response to Moscow's actions in Georgia.

British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said he would press fellow European Union leaders to review ties with Russia in retaliation for Moscow's decision to send troops into Georgia and recognize two Georgian breakaway regions.

But underlining the differences in approach within the 27-member EU, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier took a softer line, saying isolating Russia would harm the interests of the bloc.

A senior U.S. diplomat said Washington hoped the EU would express concrete support for Georgia's territorial integrity, and urged Europe to reduce its dependence on Russian energy. Russia supplies more than a quarter of Europe's gas needs, and some observers say this makes tough EU sanctions unlikely.

"Russia does not want confrontation with any country. Russia does not plan to isolate itself," Medvedev said in an interview with Russia's three main television stations.

But he added, "Everyone should understand that if someone launches an aggressive sortie, he will receive a response." He said Russian law allowed the Kremlin to impose sanctions on other states, though it preferred not to take that path.

Medvedev said the world would be more stable if the U.S. was less dominant.

"The world must be multi-polar; domination is unacceptable," he said. "We can't accept the world order where all decisions are made by one nation, even by such a serious and authoritative nation as the United States. Such a world would be unstable."

He said Russia will protect its "privileged" interests in the former Soviet nations and defend its citizens and the interests of its businessmen abroad.

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