TODAY: EU backs away from promising Ukraine EU membership as speculation increases that it is next on Russia’s list. Russia moves to prevent US from re-arming Georgia; doubles troop numbers in breakaway regions. Lavrov’s four-letter-words. Oleg Mitvol dismissed from environmental watchdog. Scandal of magic trick. The EU, apparently wary of antagonizing Russia, has edged away from making any promises to Ukraine on EU membership. “For the EU to let in a new member is a much more complicated decision than for Nato to do so.” A number of columnists have been turning their attentions to Russian relations with Ukraine, with one speculating whether Russia might try to provoke the country into attacking. Ukraine is to shut down an early warning attack station based in Sevastopol that is currently being used by Russia. Russia has moved to block US attempts to rebuild Georgia’s military. Russia has suggested holding an informal UN Security Council meeting with representatives of Abkhazia and South Ossetia next month. What of Russia’s own separatists? Russia’s plan to station more than double the number of troops in the regions that were there prior to the war may alarm the West.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in Poland to discuss disagreements over European security issues. Is it true that Lavrov gave British Foreign Secretary David Miliband a tongue-lashing of “four-letter words” in a recent telephone call?Oleg Mitvol, the deputy head of environmental watchdog Rosprirodnadzor known for his campaigns against oil companies, was the last to find out he had been dismissed from his post.Read about a strange scandal that calls Russia’s freedom of speech into question, relating to a magic trick involving the word ‘Putin’. 50% of all Russians smoke, according to President Dmitry Medvedev. Is this, in part, due to a lack of restrictions?PHOTO: Russian President Dmitry Medvedev speaks in the residence of Gorki outside Moscow. Russia tightened control Tuesday over the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, establishing diplomatic relations and announcing 7,600 troops would be based there long-term. (AFP/RIA/Dmitry Astakhov)