Medvedev: ready to take on the West

Russia is ready to take on the West if the latter opts for confrontation following the Russia-Georgia conflict, warned Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev on Saturday.

"The war was a moment of truth for us," said Mr. Medvedev. The world is different after August 8 when Georgia attacked South Ossetia, he added. "Russia will never allow anyone to infringe upon the lives and dignity of its citizens," he said, adding: "Russia is a nation to be reckoned with from now on."

He was speaking at a meeting of the State Council, a consultative body which comprises federal and regional elites. He said the rearming of Georgia under the guise of humanitarian aid was continuing and NATO deployed "a whole fleet" in the Black Sea for the purpose.

"I wonder how they would feel if we dispatched humanitarian aid to the tornado-hit Caribbean using our Navy," he asked ironically. Mr. Medvedev said the West was continuing to put political pressure on Russia, but "nothing will come of it."

"I will clearly state that confrontation is not our choice. We have again confirmed our readiness for equal, mutually beneficial relations, cordial relations on the basis of authentic principles of international law," he said.

Support for Russia

The State Council, called to discuss Russia’s foreign policy and "strengthening of national security" in the light of Georgia’s aggression, met a day after the Collective Security Treaty Organisation, a Russia-led defence pact of seven ex-Soviet republics, strongly backed Russia’s handing of the Georgia crisis and decided to enhance military and foreign policy cooperation, vowing to "firmly guarantee security in the zone of its responsibility."

The European Union Foreign Ministers on Saturday appealed to Russia to follow through on commitments to withdraw its forces from Georgia under a ceasefire plan. French President Nicolas Sarkozy is slated to visit Moscow on Monday to discuss the issue with Mr. Medvedev.

AFP reports from Washington:

The U.S. will likely scrap a U.S.-Russia civilian nuclear cooperation pact next week.

"It’s probably going to happen next week," a State Department official told reporters when asked about the issue. "The President [George W. Bush] has to withdraw the document from Congress. So he needs to take that step, and that’s what will happen," said the official.

The official did not explicitly say whether the decision had already been taken to withdraw the pact. The White House said on August 28 that it was considering dropping the agreement, which aims to allow U.S. and Russian companies to form joint ventures in the nuclear sector and gives the go-ahead for exchanges of nuclear technology between the two countries.

Russia would also be able to reprocess spent nuclear fuel originating in the U.S., which accounts for most of the world market, in a move that has raised fears of Russia being turned into a nuclear dump.

Mr. Bush and his Russian counterpart at the time Vladimir Putin inked the agreement at a summit in the Russian resort of Sochi.

[Source: The Hindu, Moscow, 07Sep08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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