We are not afraid of a new Cold War: Russian President Medvedev

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Moscow, Aug 27: Dmitry Medvedev, the Russian President has said Russia does not want a new Cold War but is also not afraid of one should it occur. ''We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a new Cold War, but we don't want one, and in this situation everything depends on the position of our partners,'' Medvedev told a Russian TV channel after signing decrees on Tuesday, Aug 26 to recognise the independence of Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

He said the West should understand why Moscow recognised Abkhazia and South Ossetia's sovereignty. Medvedev also said US presidential candidates may use this current situation in their election campaigns, although ''voters are indifferent to events abroad during US elections.'' The president said recognising the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia was in line with international law, adding that during the independence debate in Kosovo, Russia's Western partners said Kosovo was a special case. ''Each case of recognising independence is a special case,'' he said, stressing ''a special case in Kosovo, a special case in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.'' ''Until recently we tried to help restore state unity, but the last nail was driven in following Georgia's decision to attack,'' Medvedev said.

Georgia called the decision to recognise the breakaway republics 'an unconcealed annexation' and said its ties with Russia would now 'stall for a long time, if not for good.' In an interview to CNN, Medvedev said Russia will defend Abkhazia and South Ossetia with all the necessary support if they come under attack.

''Under the decree recognising independence of both republics, which I have signed, our country will help Abkhazia and South Ossetia to ensure their security and if they are attacked we will certainly offer them appropriate support,'' he said.

Abkhazia and South Ossetia broke away from Georgia following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s. Georgia has long sought to bring the breakaway regions back under its control, while accusing Russia of trying to annex the republics.

The United States and the EU have already condemned Russia's decision as ''unacceptable and regrettable.'' Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili accused Russia of trying to ''break the Georgian state, undermine the fundamental values of Georgia, and to wipe Georgia from the map.'' ''Today's step by Russia is completely illegal and will have no legal basis, neither for Georgia nor for the rest of the world,'' he said.

Saakashvili described the declaration as ''the first attempt in Europe after Nazi Germany and the Stalinist Soviet Union to change the borders of Europe by force.''


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