TODAY: Medvedev recognizes independence of Georgian breakaway states, says Russia does not fear a new Cold War – full text of statement. Western world responds with outrage; Russia thought to be seeking Asian support; EU urges Russia to join WTO; tensions over Russia’s Nato agreements for Afghanistan. In a widely condemned move, President Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree recognizing the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Georgia’s two breakaway republics. “Now Russia appears to be willing to trash its strategic relationships.” Medvedev also said that Russia is “not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a Cold War.” Russia’s western relations have now reached “their most critical point in a generation”. Read a translation of Medvedev’s statement on the breakaway regions. The BBC has a video of Medvedev defending his decision on the grounds that South Ossetians need “protection”.
“Lame duck” US President George Bush called the move an “irresponsible decision”. The British foreign secretary will condemn Russia’s actions during a speech delivered today in Ukraine. Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili says that Russia’s move “confirms that its invasion of Georgia was part of a broader, premeditated plan to redraw the map of Europe.” Read the full text of his statement. French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner concludes that Ukraine and Moldova are now “Russian targets”, and says that Russia has broken international law. Kosovo says the wide recognition of its own independence does not justify Russia’s move. Russia will now be seeking “unambiguous support” from Asian nations, including China.Syrian and Iranian leaders are seeking to exploit the new Russian-American rift by pledging support for Russia’s actions in Georgia. Medvedev has said that Russia will have to respond militarily to the deployment of a US missile shield in Central Europe.The US has cancelled plans to dock a military ship carrying humanitarian aid in the Georgian port of Poti.The European Commission said that it still believed it was right and possible for Russia to join the World Trade Organization, and that the country should increase its efforts to do so. Despite this week’s strong anti-Nato rhetoric and concerns over the next steps, Russia says it will continue its cooperation with Nato on Afghanistan.PHOTO: A South Ossetian man shoots in the air as he celebrates the recognition of South Ossetian independence by the Russian Federation in Tskhinvali. (AFP/Dmitry Kostyukov)