Russia’s relationship with the West is likely to deteriorate further after its parliament yesterday unanimously approved resolutions calling for the recognition of two rebel regions of Georgia.
Both houses of parliament swiftly approved non-binding resolutions calling on President Dmitry Medvedev to recognize the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.
The lower house, or State Duma, approved a second resolution calling on parliaments worldwide to back independence for the two regions, saying they had many more reasons than the former Serb province of Kosovo to aspire to international recognition.
Georgia and Russia fought a brief war over South Ossetia earlier this month after Tbilisi sent in troops to try to retake the province by force, provoking a massive counter-attack by land, sea and air from Moscow.
Medvedev, who was working in the resort of Sochi, just along the Black Sea coast from Abkhazia, did not immediately comment on the resolutions, but said ties with NATO had "worsened sharply" as a result of the Georgia conflict.
"We are ready to take any decision, up to halting relations altogether," he said at a meeting in Sochi with Dmitry Rogozin, the Russian envoy to NATO.
In the South Ossetian capital Tskhinvali, jubilant residents drove down Stalin Street with South Ossetian and Russian flags hanging out of the windows, thrusting their arms into the air and shouting "Victory, Victory".
The resolutions could either signal Medvedev's intentions or be designed to strengthen his hand as he negotiates the status of Russian forces in Georgia with the West.
"Today it is clear that after Georgia's aggression against South Ossetia, Georgian-South-Ossetian and Georgian-Abkhazian relations cannot be returned to their former state," upper house speaker Sergei Mironov said during the debate. "The peoples of South Ossetia and Abkhazia have the right to get independence."
Medvedev warned ex-Soviet Moldova yesterday against repeating Georgia's mistake of trying to use force to seize back control of a breakaway region.
Russia sent peacekeepers to Moldova in the early 1990s to end a conflict between Chisinau and its breakaway Transdniestria region and is trying to mediate a deal between the two sides.
Transdniestria, one of a number of "frozen conflicts" on the territory of the former Soviet Union, mirrored the standoff between Georgia and its rebel regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia until they erupted in war earlier this month.
"After the Georgian leadership lost their marbles, as they say, all the problems got worse and a military conflict erupted," Medvedev told Moldovan President Vladimir Voronin in Sochi.
"This is a serious warning, a warning to all," he added. "And I believe we should handle other existing conflicts in this context."
Medvedev, keen to limit diplomatic damage caused by the Russian operation in Georgia, made clear Moldova had no reason to worry for now.
（英语点津 Helen 编辑）
Dylan Quinnell is a freelance journalist and photographer from New Zealand who has worked in TV, print, film and online. With a strong interest in international affairs, he has worked in Denmark, Indonesia and Australia, covering issues like the EU, indigenous people and deforestation. Dylan is in Beijing on an Asia New Zealand grant working as a copy editor for the English news department.