Russia courts old allies, steps up defiance of the West
President Dmitry Medvedev said Saturday that Russia is 'a nation to be reckoned with.'
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But even in its own backyard, Moscow is finding its tough new stance a hard sell. On Friday, at a summit of the Moscow-led, seven-member Collective Security Treaty Organization (which includes Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia, Uzbekistan, and Tajikistan), Medvedev won backing for Russia's crushing military rebuff of Georgia's attempt to retake South Ossetia, but found not one ally willing to follow Moscow's lead in establishing diplomatic ties with the tiny pro-Moscow enclave.Skip to next paragraph
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Experts say Medvedev has received an even cooler response from Russia's traditional Asian friends, China and India. Both nations generously supported Moscow's decade-long effort to suppress its own separatist challenge in Chechnya and backed its angry opposition to Western recognition of Kosovo's self-declared independence earlier this year. At a summit of the influential Shanghai Cooperation Organization last week, where China is a leading member and India an observer, participants would only agree to a tepid statement that expressed "support [for] Russia's active role in facilitating peace and cooperation" in the Caucasus region.
But being a neighbor of Russia has just gotten harder, say experts.
"Russia has demonstrated that it's ready to use force outside its own borders, and this means countries of the region are going to have to take note and choose whom they listen to," on big geopolitical issues, says Mr. Lukyanov.
"The space for maneuvering between East and West [for Russia's neighbors] is definitely shrinking," he says.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy travels to Moscow on Monday with European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and European Union foreign-policy chief Javier Solana to encourage Medvedev to comply with a month-old peace plan for Georgia. Meanwhile, Georgia seeks a ruling from The Hague over its claims of human rights abuses against ethnic Georgians in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.