Medvedev meets heads of ex-Soviet states seeking support on Georgia

Other News Materials 5 September 2008 19:06 (UTC +04:00)

President Dmitry Medvedev hosted the heads of six ex-Soviet states at the summit of military alliance in Moscow in an effort to bolster support in Russia's standoff with the West over Georgia, dpa reported.

The presidents of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO), a loose Soviet-era alliance Moscow hopes to shape into a military counterweight to NATO, were set to sign a statement Friday criticizing Georgia's military campaign.

While Foreign Minsiter Sergei Lavrov hailed the draft of the statement Thursday, saying it "gives clear answers to every possible question," the document glaringly omits mention of the Kremlin's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

On this question, the CSTO alliance's member state, Russia's closest allies - Belarus, Armenia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan - have proved reticent.

While Belarus President Alexander Lukashenko backed Medvedev as expected in a letter asserting Moscow response was the only one possible after Georgia's attack on South Ossetia, he has gone no further to recognizing the separatist regions.

Even as the agreement was inked Thursday, Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian said Yerevan had no intention of recognizing the two regions.

He criticized Georgia's use of force, but said trade ties with Georgia and Armenia's own separatist conflict with neighbour Azerbaijan over Nagarno-Karabakh were powerful diplomatic stops.

Landlocked Armenia carries out 70 per cent of its foreign trade through Georgia, facing blockades along other borders.

Moscow last week also met with limited support from its Central Asian allies, including fellow UN veto power China, seeking backing of its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia at Shanghai Cooperation Organization in the Tajik capital of Dushanbe.

Moscow has been isolated by the West over its recognition of the two rebel regions that have held defacto independence since winning a war of successsion from Tbilisi in the early 1990s.

Only former Soviet ally Nicaragua has followed Moscow's lead to recognizing the two breakaway provinces.