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Vladimir Putin 'shoots' tiger, dismisses EU leaders - Times Online
The Russian Prime Minister – shown in new macho-style pictures apparently tranquilising a tiger – said that any attempts at severing relations would be hampered by the self-interest of European nations.
EU leaders meet tomorrow for an emergency summit to discuss the Georgian crisis, and Gordon Brown said today that there should be a “root and branch” review of ties with Russia.
“In the light of Russian actions, the EU should review – root and branch – our relationship with Russia,” he wrote in The Observer today. He made no mention of possible EU sanctions against Russia.
Carl Bildt, the Swedish Foreign Minister, said the EU should create an “Eastern Partnership” to help ex-Soviet states such as Georgia that want to pull out of Moscow’s orbit.
But Mr Putin struck a confident note, saying he did not see any signs of “practical steps which would indicate a cooling in relations.”
“If any of the European countries wants to serve someone’s narrow political interests, then go ahead. We cannot stop them. But we think, as they say in such cases, ‘You have to look out for No1’,” Mr Putin said in an interview with the state-owned Rossiya television channel.
“I think that many of our partners, and first of all our European partners, will be guided by this fairly crude but very descriptive saying,” he added.
Analysis say that Russia’s role as a supplier of more than a quarter of Europe’s gas makes tough EU action unlikely at the summit.
The emergency summit is a test of unity for the EU, which struggles to reconcile differences between states which want punitive action and others, including European heavyweights France and Germany, which favour a more calibrated approach.
Russia sent in its troops after Georgia’s military tried to retake South Ossetia, one of two Moscow-backed breakaway regions.
It has pulled out the bulk of its forces in line with a French-brokered ceasefire deal but has kept soldiers and equipment in“security zones,” which include undisputed Georgian territory around South Ossetia and the second region of Abkhazia.
Western governments have demanded that Moscow pull its troops back to pre-conflict positions. The Kremlin says the troops are peacekeepers needed to protect the separatist regions from new Georgian aggression.
President Dimitry Medvedev said today that Russia would not backtrack on its decision to recognise Georgia’s breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states. “We have taken our decision and we took it irrevocably,” he said.
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