EU considers sanctions on Russia

EU considers sanctions on Russia

EU leaders are considering sanctions "and many other means" on Russia over the crisis in Georgia, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner has said, reported BBC.

He gave no further details but added "this will be solved by negotiation".

Moscow's military offensive in Georgia and its recognition of independence for Georgia's breakaway enclaves has been condemned by the West.

But Russia's president says he has the support of China and four central Asian states for its actions in Georgia.

Speaking at a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), Russian President Dmitri Medvedev said the grouping's united position would have "international resonance".

"I hope it will serve as a serious signal to those who try to turn black into white and justify this aggression," he said in the Tajik capital, Dushanbe.

He was referring to Georgia's attempt earlier this month to retake the Russian-backed separatist region of South Ossetia by force after a series of clashes.

Russian forces subsequently launched a counter-attack and the conflict ended with the ejection of Georgian troops from both South Ossetia and Abkhazia and an EU-brokered ceasefire.

France has called an emergency EU summit on Monday to reassess relations with Russia after its refusal to pull back all its troops from Georgia in line with the truce agreement.

The BBC's Oana Lungescu in Brussels says Mr Kouchner's mention of sanctions is a complete U-turn from his position earlier this week, when he insisted they were not on the agenda.

In a joint statement, the SCO gave their support for Russia's "active role" in resolving the conflict in Georgia by "assisting in peace and cooperation in the region".

"The SCO member states express their deep concern over the recent tensions surrounding the South Ossetia question and call for the sides to peacefully resolve existing problems through dialogue," the statement said.

The SCO - which includes China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - was established in 2001 as a counterweight to Nato influence in the region.

The BBC's diplomatic correspondent, Jonathan Marcus, says it is tempting to see Russia turning eastwards as its relations with the West sour.

But, he says, it would be wrong to see this as the emergence of a coherent anti-Western bloc, as its most powerful member - China - could hardly be more integrated into the international economy.

China also sees territorial integrity and the defence of national sovereignty as almost sacrosanct values in its diplomacy abroad, our correspondent says.

Earlier, seven of the world's leading industrialised nations - Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the US and UK - said Moscow's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia violated Georgia's integrity and sovereignty.

The group also said it deplored Russia's "excessive use of military force in Georgia and its continued occupation of parts of Georgia".

The UK's Foreign Secretary David Miliband said Western countries should re-examine their relations with Russia and warned Russia not to start a new Cold War.

Speaking during a visit to Ukraine, Mr Miliband said Moscow had not reconciled itself with the new map of the region and that the West should look at ways to reduce its dependence on Russian oil and gas.

Russia said it was the last country that wanted a new Cold War.

President Medvedev has said he was obliged to recognise the independence of the two regions after the "genocide" started by Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili in South Ossetia in August.

He also blamed Georgia for failing to negotiate a peaceful settlement.

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