Western sanctions to punish Russia ''senseless'': Medvedev

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Moscow, Sept 16 (UNI) Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has warned imposing sanctions on Russia over the Georgian crisis would be ''senseless.'' ''I believe some of the 'hotheads' who have been urging sanctions against Russia are becoming aware of this,'' Mr Medvedev said addressing a meeting of local businessmen yesterday here.

''We do not need isolation or an arms race - this is a dead-end, the road to nowhere. We will not let ourselves be worn out like the Soviet Union. However, of course we will take all the necessary measures to strengthen our defence capacity,'' he said.

''If anyone tries to enforce sanctions, we realise that losses will bear a symmetrical nature,'' Mr Medvedev stressed, adding he did not doubt that business ties with the West would keep developing despite the current Georgian crisis.

About fifty senior government officials and business leaders attended the meeting.

On Russia's further economic development, he said the situation in the world has changed after the recent hostilities in South Ossetia and this could not help but influence business in a number of ways.

''The Tbilisi regime unleashed a real war against the Ossetian people. Only thanks to the actions taken by Russia, was the war stopped. But before that, it managed to hurt Russians, Ossetians, Georgians - everyone. Thousands of people were killed or left homeless,'' he said.

''Russia not only could, but was obliged, to stop that bloodshed and defend its citizens and peacekeepers. As the Supreme Commander-in-Chief, I could not have issued any other order,'' Mr Medvedev noted.

He also said Russia would like to join the World Trade Organization (WTO) but would not be pressured into concessions.

''WTO is not a carrot; it entails a lot of difficult obligations,'' he said, stressing ''and if we do it, let us do it in a normal way without them trying to scare us.'' UNI XC MP VP0420

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