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Georgia to cut diplomatic ties to Russia

TBILISI, Georgia — Georgia said Friday it will sever diplomatic ties with Moscow to protest the presence of Russian troops on its territory. Russia criticized the move, pinning blame for a breakdown in relations on Tbilisi.

Georgia's remaining diplomats in Russia will leave Moscow today, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nato Chikovani said.

Lawmakers voted unanimously late Thursday to break off ties with Russia, branding it an "aggressor country" in their conflict over two Russian-backed separatist regions in Georgia.

Russia will have to close its embassy in Georgia if ties are severed, the RIA-Novosti agency quoted an unnamed ministry official as saying. However, both nations' consulates will remain open — important for the many Georgian citizens living in Russia.

"Breaking off diplomatic relations with Tbilisi is not Moscow's choice, and the responsibility lies with Tbilisi," the ITAR-Tass news agency quoted Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko as saying.

Adding to the tension, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Moscow will not be isolated over its conduct in Georgia and warned Europe that it shouldn't cater to the United States.

"If European countries want to serve the foreign policy interests of the United States, in my view they won't win anything from this," Putin said in an interview with Germany TV before a European Union meeting in Brussels on Monday about the Georgia crisis and relations with Russia.

Russia described Tbilisi's military offensive as blind aggression, saying the move deprived Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili of the moral authority to defend his country's territorial integrity.

Georgia and the West in turn criticized Russia for pressing further into Georgia proper and for ignoring a cease-fire brokered by the European Union.

This week, Moscow announced that it will recognize South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another separatist Georgian region with strong ties to Russia, as independent states.

South Ossetian parliamentary Speaker Znaur Gassiyev said Russia will absorb South Ossetia within "several years" or earlier.

EU leaders will not impose sanctions on Russia at their summit next week in Brussels, even though some EU countries have pushed for them, French officials said Friday. EU leaders meet Monday to discuss aid to Georgia and future relations with Russia. France currently holds the EU presidency and "doesn't foresee any sanctions," said Bernard Kouchner, French foreign minister.

Poland's prime minister sought to reassure worried residents near the site of a planned U.S. missile defense base on Friday, pledging that they and the country would be more secure, despite threats from an angry Russia. Prime Minister Donald Tusk visited the former Polish air base in Redzikowo — just 115 miles from Russia's westernmost edge — that is to host the facility and faced residents at a town hall meeting in the city of Slupsk. "In case of war, Redzikowo and Slupsk will be more secure than other places, and not less secure," Tusk said. One person at the three-hour meeting shouted that "you condemned Redzikowo and Slupsk to annihilation like Hiroshima and Nagasaki."

>>fast facts

EU leaders plan no sanctions against Russia

EU leaders will not impose sanctions on Russia at their summit next week in Brussels, even though some EU countries have pushed for them, French officials said Friday. EU leaders meet Monday to discuss aid to Georgia and future relations with Russia. France currently holds the EU presidency and "doesn't foresee any sanctions," said Bernard Kouchner, French foreign minister.

Poland's prime minister sought to reassure worried residents near the site of a planned U.S. missile defense base on Friday, pledging that they and the country would be more secure, despite threats from an angry Russia. Prime Minister Donald Tusk visited the former Polish air base in Redzikowo — just 115 miles from Russia's westernmost edge — that is to host the facility and faced residents at a town hall meeting in the city of Slupsk. "In case of war, Redzikowo and Slupsk will be more secure than other places, and not less secure," Tusk said.

>>fast facts

EU leaders plan no sanctions against Russia

EU leaders will not impose sanctions on Russia at their summit next week in Brussels, even though some EU countries have pushed for them, French officials said Friday. EU leaders meet Monday to discuss aid to Georgia and future relations with Russia. France currently holds the EU presidency and "doesn't foresee any sanctions," said Bernard Kouchner, French foreign minister.

Poland's prime minister sought to reassure worried residents near the site of a planned U.S. missile defense base on Friday, pledging that they and the country would be more secure, despite threats from an angry Russia. Prime Minister Donald Tusk visited the former Polish air base in Redzikowo — just 115 miles from Russia's westernmost edge — that is to host the facility and faced residents at a town hall meeting in the city of Slupsk. "In case of war, Redzikowo and Slupsk will be more secure than other places, and not less secure," Tusk said.

Georgia to cut diplomatic ties to Russia 08/29/08 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 2, 2010 2:41pm]

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