Russia, Georgia and Ukraine try to build bridges in St Petersburg

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Russia, Georgia and Ukraine try to build bridges in St Petersburg

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Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his Georgian counterpart Mikhail Saakashvili have vowed to improve relations, damaged in recent times.

Ties between Georgia and its former Soviet master had reached a new low over the status of the two Georgian breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both backed by Russia and Georgia’s wish to join NATO.

Georgia is currently unhappy with the deployment of 400 unarmed Russian troops to Abkhazia to rebuild a railway destroyed in 1990.
Russia has called it a humanitarian mission but Georgia says they are there to provide military support to the separatists.

Medvedev also met with the President of Ukraine Viktor Yushchenko and warned that Ukraine could be in breach of a friendship treaty if it joins NATO.

The Russians believe that NATO expansion, which would include Ukraine, threatens Russian security.

The Russian president also urged Yushchenko not to take any unilateral steps to expel Russian ships from the Black Sea coast, which it leases from Ukraine.

Yushchenko has made it clear he wants to review the presence of the Russian Black Sea fleet stationed in the Ukrainian port of Sevastopol.

Relations between Russia and its former Soviet ally have wavered since a gas dispute between the countries led to Russia cutting supplies to the country in 2006.