TODAY – Russia’s foreign minister says the country has not become isolated since its war with Georgia; Medvedev to modernise its armed forces, says Russia not be affected by the financial crisis; OPEC head Chakib Kheli says Russia is welcome to join the cartel, another Chechen murdered, UK hopes Russia will reconsider recognition, and Russia will modernize Nicaragua’s military. Moscow’s chief diplomat commented that contrary to claims that Russia has become a pariah since the invasion of Georgia, they are feeling quite popular at the UN General Assembly. “I have (had) more requests for bilateral meetings during the current session than in recent years,” he said. Lavrov reiterated that Russia had only intervened to protect the South Ossetians from being killed by Georgian attacks. He acknowledged however, that Russia had originally considered the idea of preemptively attacking the Georgians, which he claimed could have saved several hundred Ossetian lives. Russia has chosen to “fight back” against U.S. criticism by refusing to attend talks at the U.N. on Iran’s nuclear issues. Lavrov laid it bare during a speech at the Council on Foreign Relations: “You cannot really have it both ways, punishing Russia by canceling the forums that are very important for the entire world at the same time demanding Russia’s cooperation on the issues that are of importance to you.”
Taking a page from the George W. Bush playbook, President Dmitry Medvedev today donned a Navy uniform to announce a modernization of the armed forces, and boldly declared that Russia’s economy will not be affected by the current financial crisis. “Regardless of any crisis we should build new submarines, should simply deal with the modernisation of the armed forces,” Medvedev told the crew of St George the Victor nuclear submarine during a visit to its Pacific home base at Kamchatka Peninsula.OPEC would like to welcome Russia as its member. The respective statement was made by Algerian Oil Minister and OPEC President Chakib Khelil, who indicated however that Russia hadn’t officially applied for the membership: “I have received no official request from Russia to become a member of the organization, even though we would like that,” Khelil told the press.Ruslan Yamadayev, a former Chechen rebel who switched sides to work with the Russian government, was murdered by gunshots while he waited in his car today near the British Embassy in Moscow.The United Kingdom is hoping that Russia will reconsider its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. British Ambassador to Russia Tony Brenton tells Interfax that recognition “is a big mistake,” and that “it’s a pity that Russia says it is irreversible.”Russia’s Ambassador to Nicaragua has announced that Moscow will work with Managua to replace the country’s aging weaponry, which dates back from the Soviet Union supplies to Daniel Ortega’s Sandinistas during the 1980s. Nicaragua is the only other country to join Russia in recognizing Abkhazia and South Ossetia.Also, a youth wrestling team in Chechnya fights for more than just medals in the war-torn region.