Russia hits back at Western bias over Georgia

Paris, Moscow | Updated: Aug 30 2008, 08:50am hrs
A defiant Russia said on Friday that international condemnation of its actions in Georgia was biased, while the appetite in the European Union for imposing sanctions on Moscow appeared to dwindle.

Western governments have criticized Russia for sending troops deep into its ex-Soviet neighbor Georgia and recognizing Georgias two breakaway regions as independent, steps that prompted some to draw parallels with the Cold War. European diplomats said they had received clear signals from the Kremlin that Russia would retaliate if the European Union imposed punitive measures over Georgia when EU leaders meet for an emergency summit next week.

Russian oil companies and government officials denied a British newspaper report that they were preparing to restrict oil supplies in response to sanctions. A senior diplomat for EU president France said sanctions would not be adopted at the summit.

That message contradicted remarks on Thursday by French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner, who said sanctions were among the options on the table. The time to pass sanctions has certainly not come, the French diplomat said. In a sign of growing frustration with the Western criticism, the Russian Foreign Ministry issued a strongly worded statement saying the Group of Seven nations had sided with Georgia when it condemned Moscows actions on Wednesday.

This step is biased and aimed at justifying the aggressive actions of Georgia, the Russian statement said, adding the G7 had made baseless assertions about Russia undermining Georgias territorial integrity. In a combative interview on Thursday, Putin accused the US of orchestrating the conflict in Georgia, and linked the row to Russias cooperation with the West.