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Georgia Announces Break in Diplomatic Ties With Russia

By VOA News
29 August 2008

Georgia has announced it is breaking diplomatic relations with Russia after Moscow recognized the independence of two Georgian breakaway regions, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Deputy Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze announced the decision but said consular offices will remain. Russian officials expressed regret over the decision, but said their diplomats will leave Tbilisi Saturday.

Top member Davit Darchiashvili of Georgia's ruling United National Movement called the break largely symbolic. He said Georgia recalled its ambassador from Moscow in July and there had been virtually no diplomatic contact for months.

He said President Mikheil Saakashvili was not interested in a total break in ties, but had no choice.

Meanwhile, Russian officials have sharply criticized NATO and other Western institutions for their positions on the Georgian crisis.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko Friday accused the alliance of having in recent years "repeatedly and demonstratively" ignored both the United Nations and international law. He said NATO has no moral right to criticize Russian policies.

Russian diplomats also accused the Group of Seven leading industrialized nations of being "biased" in urging the withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia.

French diplomats Friday said Monday's European Union summit is not likely to impose sanctions on Russia in response to the Georgian crisis. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner raised the sanctions issue Thursday.

Georgian troops went into South Ossetia August 7 to try to retake control of the breakaway region. Russia replied with tanks and thousands of troops, saying it had to protect Russian citizens there.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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