TODAY: Medvedev to decide on Georgia’s breakaway republics today amid US criticism; Russia says that breaking ties with Nato would be “no great loss”, and may block a supply route through Afganistan; Putin sees WTO commitments as a “burden”. Powerful Russia would balance China? A plea from Russia’s parliament for the country to back independence for Georgia’s two breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia was voted for unanimously, and the plea will be considered at a meeting this morning, with President Dmitry Medvedev having the final say. The US has urged Russia not to recognize the rebel areas. “More important than the parliamentary vote is Mr Medvedev’s statement yesterday that breaking off all relations with Nato would be no great loss for Russia.” Russia may also suspend an agreement allowing Nato to take supplies and equipment to Afghanistan through Russia and Central Asia. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has suggested that Russia abandon some of the commitments – particularly relating to agriculture – made during World Trade Organization accession talks. “We don’t see or feel advantages from membership, if they exist at all. But we are carrying the burden,” he said. Deputy Prime Minister Igor Shuvalov said that Russia does not see any prospects for join the World Trade Organization this year.
The US is reviewing its “entire relationship” with Russia, and has reiterated that the country is still not honoring the terms of its ceasefire agreement with Georgia. The EU is divided over how to deal with Russia’s actions in Georgia, with central Europe keen for a confrontational stance, and “old Europe” seeking to avoid long-term animosity. A Russian general said that ships of US humanitarian aid in Georgia’s Black Sea ports could destabilize the region. It appears that the US missile defense shield, to be stationed in Poland, may indeed be related to a perceived Russian threat.“A powerful Russia would both balance China’s rise, thus facilitating China’s integration into a functional concert, and contribute towards imposing order on the chaotic elements within radical Islam.”PHOTO: Deputies of Russia’s Duma lower house of the parliament stand in a minute of silence to commemorate those who died in the conflict in Georgia’s breakaway region of South Ossetia during a session in Moscow August 25, 2008. REUTERS/Alexander Natruskin (RUSSIA)