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Russia missile test heightens stand-off with West

A spokesman for Russia's strategic nuclear forces said the 6,000 kilometre (3,700 mile) test of the Topol RS-12M was successful.
by Staff Writers
Moscow (AFP) Aug 28, 2008
Russia on Thursday tested an inter-continental missile, heightening tensions with the West as France said the European Union could impose sanctions on Moscow over the Georgia conflict.

Russia also sought international support at a summit with China and Central Asian nations.

The missile test in northern Russia came barely a week after the United States completed an accord with Poland on basing an anti-missile shield in central Europe and as Russia accuses NATO of building up its navy vessels in the Black Sea.

A spokesman for Russia's strategic nuclear forces said the 6,000 kilometre (3,700 mile) test of the Topol RS-12M was successful, news agencies reported. Russia has been developing the missile in response to US plans to develop a missile-defence shield.

The announcement came as Russia complained about the number of NATO ships in the Black Sea and said it was taking "measures of precaution."

NATO said there were five warships taking part in exercises in the Black Sea that were organised before Russia's military offensive in Georgia on August 8.

The stand-off with the West has deepened since President Dmitry Medvedev's announcement that Russia recognised South Ossetia and another rebel region, Abkhazia, as independent states.

"There is no NATO naval build up in the Black Sea as Russian authorities are claiming in the media," alliance spokeswoman Carmen Romero said.

US warships have taken relief supplies to Georgia outside of the NATO exercises and other western nations are believed to have vessels in the Black Sea. Russia has moved some of its own naval forces to the Abkhaz port of Sukhumi.

EU states are considering imposing sanctions on Russia at an emergency summit on the Georgian crisis on Monday, French Foreign Minister Bernard Kouchner said.

"Sanctions are being considered, and many other means," said Kouchner, whose country holds the European Union presidency.

"We are trying to draw up a strong text showing our desire not to accept" events in Georgia, Kouchner said, adding that France was not among the EU countries proposing sanctions.

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov shrugged off the threat, saying it was made "just because they're upset that the 'little pet' of certain Western capitals didn't fulfil their expectations."

Lavrov said the French minister had a "sick imagination" for suggesting on Wednesday that Moscow could have designs on Ukraine and Moldova.

Russia claimed it had secured support from China and four other nations at a summit in Dushanbe, the Tajikistan capital.

A statement released by the six nations at the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation summit voiced support for Russia's "active role" in "assisting in peace and cooperation in the region" but also called for dialogue and respect for "territorial integrity."

"The SCO member states express their deep concern over the recent tensions surrounding the South Ossetia question and call for the sides to peacefully resolve existing problems through dialogue," said the statement signed by Medvedev, President Hu Jintao of China and the leaders of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

The declaration called for respect for "territorial integrity" without specifically naming the Georgia case.

Medvedev described the "united position" of the SCO members as a "serious signal" to the West.

"I am sure that the united position of the SCO member states will have international resonance," Medvedev said. "And I hope it will serve as a serious signal to those who try to turn black into white and justify this aggression."

China said Wednesday it was "concerned" at the Georgia conflict and called for "dialogue and consultation" to resolve the issue.

On Wednesday, the Group of Seven industrialised powers condemned Russia's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

"We deplore Russia's excessive use of military force in Georgia and its continued occupation of parts of Georgia," said the statement from Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States.

South Ossetian prosecutor general Teimuraz Khugayev said Thursday that 1,692 people were killed and 1,500 wounded in the attack by Georgian forces on the breakaway region, news agencies reported.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier called on Russia to allow an international probe into allegations of abuses by the Georgian military in South Ossetia.

Georgian Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili accused Russia of pursuing "ethnic cleansing" in South Ossetia, at a special meeting of the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

burs/tw/har

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US mulls scrapping nuclear pact with Russia
Washington (AFP) Aug 28, 2008
The White House said Thursday that it was considering scrapping a US-Russia civilian nuclear cooperation pact in response to Moscow's actions in Georgia.







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