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Nato warns Russia over Georgia
Secretary general says alliance "cannot continue business as usual" with Moscow.
Last Modified: 19 Aug 2008 14:09 GMT

De Hoop Scheffer urged Russia to honour its pledge to withdraw its forces from Georgia [AFP]

Nato foreign ministers have warned there can be "no business as usual" with Russia, and called for the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia.

"We have determined that we cannot continue with business as usual," Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, the Nato secretary general, said, following talks in Brussels on Tuesday.

The 26 Nato foreign ministers said: "We call on Russia to demonstrate, both in word and deed, its continued commitment to the principles upon which we agreed to base our relationship."

The secretary general said Russian troops were not withdrawing from Georgia as promised in the six-point European Union-brokered ceasefire.

On Monday, Russia had announced the start of its withdrawal from Georgia, but Georgia has accused Moscow of stalling and seeking to spread further into the country.

De Hoop Scheffer said: "They are not withdrawing as the Russian president promised."

"It's now on Russia to take action, not on Nato... we are not slamming the door for talking to Russia, although let me repeat with the present circumstances with the Russian forces in Georgia I don't see the possibility of a Nato-Russia council meeting.

Nato backing

He also said Nato stood by its decision in Bucharest in April to allow Georgia to join Nato at some point in the future.

"Georgia can become a member of the alliance and in my opinion one day will become a member of it. The Bucharest decision stands.

"It is the six-point plan that is the beacon. I mean you don't sign the plan, make public and private comments about it and then say this plan isn't worth anything."

"I do think the Russians will come to realise 'what do they have to gain from doing what they are doing?' We both have vested interest in this relationship."

"It's not business as usual. They're occupying a sovereign nation."

Jonah Hull, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, said the meeting had one simple intention "to call Russia to comply under the peace plan and to show Nato's full support for Georgia and its future membership plans."

However, Hull said: "I dont think this is a very strong response and I don't think anyone in Moscow will think it's a strong response. Why would they bow at this point to a really not very aggressive response by Nato when they really don't need to?"

US warning

Condoleezza Rice, the United States secretary of state, who also attended the meeting in Brussels, warned Moscow that it was playing a dangerous game with the US and its Nato allies.

She said the West was determined to prevent Russia winning a strategic victory from its conflict with Georgia.

Rice said Russia's actions had been aimed at undermining Georgia's democracy, weakening its government and intimidating people there and in the region.

She said: "Russia is a state that is unfortunately using the one tool that it has always used... when it wishes to deliver a message: that is its military power. We're determined to deny them their strategic objective."

Meanwhile, Russia's navy said on Tuesday it had cancelled a September visit by a US navy frigate to a port in Russia's Far Eastern region of Kamchatka.

In a statement, the navy said: "At the present time it is not considered possible to accept the guided missile frigate USS Ford on a business visit."

The navy said the visit had been planned for 5-9 September.

The statement gave no further details about the reason for cancelling the visit and a Russian navy spokesman declined to comment further.

Last week, the US pulled out of a planned four-nation naval exercise with Russia in the Pacific because of Russia's actions in Georgia.

Source:
Agencies
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