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MOSCOW: A key summit between Russia and the European Union on Monday ended with a triumphant victory for Moscow.
The EU’s top trio of officials accepted President Dmitry Medvedev’s demands to get Georgia renounce the use of force against its breakaway territories and to have European peacekeepers deployed only on Georgian territory, while Russian peacekeepers would stay in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
Mr. Sarkozy had to admit that Europe, which denounced Russia’s move to recognise Georgia’s territories, can do little about it. He said talks in Geneva scheduled for next month would deal only with “security for South Ossetia and Abkhazia,” as per a six-point peace plan he helped to negotiate.
Meanwhile, Russia said it would base its warplanes in Venezuela, in addition to holding large-scale naval manoeuvres with the Venezuelan Navy.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko on Monday confirmed an earlier announcement in Caracas that the two countries would hold the first ever naval war games off the Venezuelan coast. Mr. Nesterenko said Russia would send four of its most powerful warships to Latin America, including the Peter the Great missile cruiser.
President Dmitry Medvedev said Russian troops could leave Georgia - though not South Ossetia and Abkhazia - within a month if at least 200 European Union observers were deployed there by Oct. 1 to monitor the pullout.
DEBKAfile’s sources note that French president Nicolas Sarkozy failed to persuade the Russian president to stand by the ceasefire stipulation to return to the positions prior to the Aug. 7 conflict in the EU talks he led in Moscow Monday, Sept. 8. Sarkozy said he handed over a letter from Georgian president Mikhail Saakashvili promising not to use force in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
International talks on the two regions would take place in Geneva on Oct. 15.
Far from happy with the outcome of the EU mission, President George W. Bush rescinded a long-negotiated civilian nuclear cooperation accord with Russia.
In Tbilisi, Saakashvili will give the EU mediators a hard time.
Acceptance of the new deal he they brought from Moscow could end his political career at home and is completely at odds with the American position.
Sarkozy will tell him it is his last chance of getting rid of Russian troops and their checkpoints from Georgia proper, even at the price of Moscow’s recognition of South Ossetian and Abkhazian independence.
Washington still stands by its demand for the withdrawal of Russian forces from the two regions and the restoration of Georgian territorial integrity.
Tuesday, Moscow and the two regions will exchange documents for setting up diplomatic relations.