Georgia has called for Europe to send a tough message to Moscow, in the face of what President Saakashvili Russia’s lawless aggression. He demanded an unequivocal response, and respect for Georgia’s territorial integrity.
But the Russian President Dimitry Medvedev insists his decision to recognise the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia is irrevocable:
“Russia does not want confrontation with anyone. Russia does not want to isolate itself, and we will maintain as far as possible our relations with Europe, with the United States, with the rest of the world,” he said.
Some Russian troops have withdrawn from South Ossetia, pulling back across the border to their home base in North Ossetia. Local people welcomed them home as liberators, who fought what they see as Georgian oppression.
The peace plan driven by President Sarkozy calls for international observers on the borders of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. For the time being though, Russian forces remain deployed around Gori and Poti. Moscow’s delaying tactics have prompted calls for urgent sanctions, but the West’s dependence on Russian energy leaves it in a weak bargaining position.
“Russia would stand to lose enormously if it suddenly could not export its oil and gas to the European Union, but the European Union would also stand to lose enormously, and they both know that,” said international energy analyst Charles Essen.
Moscow recognises a need to spread its risk, and is working flat-out on a new pipeline to the energy-hungry economies of Asia. It will give Russia access to new oil customers should Europe cut back its orders.