TODAY: Russian lawmakers recognize independence of Georgian rebel regions; Ukraine wants to join Nato for protection against Russia; troops still not fully withdrawn despite calls from the West. Medvedev to foster relationship with Jordan, Israeli prime minister to visit Russia over Syrian arms; Human Rights Watch on South Ossetia. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili says he will continue to try and unite the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, despite reports that Russian lawmakers made a “historic decision” to approve a resolution recognizing the independence of the two regions. Russia is reportedly stirring pro-Kremlin feeling in the Ukrainian port town of Sevastopol. President Dmitry Medvedev says that Kiev and Moscow should work to resolve the issue of Russia’s Black Sea Fleet, currently stationed in Sevastopol. President Viktor Yuskchenko is using fear regarding Russia’s intentions to push for Nato membership.
Russia continues to face Western calls to pull troops out of Georgia. It is being reported that traffic over the country’s east-west highway has resumed thanks to troop withdrawals, but many reports suggest that the pullout is only partial. “This isn’t peacekeeping. This is occupation.” Russia says it is not contradicting the peace agreement by keeping troops in the key port of Poti. Russia’s rhetoric on Georgia has damaged “the language of humanitarian intervention”. The US Navy has arrived off the Georgian coast to deliver aid. US space campaigners are concerned that Russia will pull back on a deal to help Nasa spacecraft reach the international space station during a five year repair gap.Following talks with Jordan’s King Abdullah II, Medvedev said Russia is interested in the further development of trade and economic ties with the country. Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert plans to visit Medvedev due to concerns that Moscow is considering arming Syria with advanced missiles. Russia’s talk of resolving “traditional” ties with Cuba has “stirred memories of the Cold War”. On German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s relationship with Russia. Merkel continues to press for Russian troops to withdraw from Georgia.A video translated by The Other Russia apparently shows a Human Rights Watch worker acknowledging Georgian damage to South Ossetia, but suggesting that casualty numbers have been exaggerated.Cyberwarfare accusations “demonize” Russia, says one official.PHOTO: Jordan’s King Abdullah II (left) holds talks with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev in Sochi. Medvedev thanked King Abdullah II for offering humanitarian aid to South Ossetia — a separatist region of Georgia where fighting broke out this month. (AFP/Ria Novosti/Vladimir Rodionov)