Russia ready to break ties with NATO : Medvedev

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Moscow, Aug 28 (UNI) Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has warned Russia could severe all ties with NATO amid a standoff over its response to Georgia's offensive in breakaway South Ossetia region.

''If NATO is not willing to cooperate with Moscow, we will take any decision, up to terminating relations entirely,'' Mr Medvedev told Russia's special envoy to the alliance, Dmitry Rogozin at the Black Sea resort of Sochi yesterday.

''Cooperation is above all in the interests of NATO, not Russia,'' he said.

Moscow recalled Mr Rogozin from Brussels ''for consultations'' after NATO froze contacts through the Russia-NATO Council on August 19, accusing Russia of ''disproportionate'' use of force against Georgia.

NATO said ''business as usual'' could not resume until Russia withdraws all troops from Georgia.

Russia's Defence Ministry later said it was suspending all cooperation with the Western alliance.

Mr Medvedev said a decision to severe ties with NATO would be difficult, and that he hoped Russia would not be forced to take such a decision.

''We want our relations to be full-fledged and those of partners, but we do not want an illusion of partnership,'' he said, adding ''Naturally we are not happy with being surrounded by military bases, and being told 'do not worry, everything's fine,' let alone with the latest events.'' Meanwhile, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said yesterday that Russia could pull out from some agreements reached during its World Trade Organisation (WTO) entry talks.

''The commitments we assumed years ago have placed additional burden on our economy, our producers,'' Mr Putin said at a Cabinet meeting.

''Meanwhile, we do not see any benefits from joining the WTO,'' he added.

The US has threatened to block Russia's accession to the WTO for its intervention to repulse Georgia's attack on South Ossetia.

US President George W Bush has urged Russia not to recognise Georgia's two breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.

Mr Bush's comments came after Russia's parliament passed a non-binding resolution yesterday calling on the Russian President to support the enclaves' independence bid.

The US has said such recognition would be contrary to international law and has pledged to stand by Georgia.


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