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Page last updated at 12:12 GMT, Friday, 19 September 2008 13:12 UK

Russia warns of new Iron Curtain

Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. Photo: 19 September 2008
Mr Medvedev said he did not want disputes with the West

President Dmitri Medvedev has accused the West of trying to push Russia behind a new "Iron Curtain".

"This is not our path. For us there is no sense going back to the past," the Russian leader said in Moscow.

He also blamed Nato for provoking last month's fighting between Russia and Georgia over South Ossetia.

His comments come a day after US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Russia was becoming increasingly aggressive abroad.

In a strongly-worded speech, Ms Rice said Moscow was on a "one-way path to isolation and irrelevance".

Diplomatic relations between the US and its European allies, on one side, and Russia on the other, have been strained by the Georgian conflict.

Lambasting Nato

"We are in effect being pushed down a path that is founded not on fully-fledged, civilised partnership with other countries, but on autonomous development, behind thick walls, behind an Iron Curtain," President Medvedev said.

Russian troops in the South Ossetian capital, Tskhinvali. File photo
Russian troops repelled Georgian forces from the breakaway regions

He said that Moscow would not allow this to happen, adding that he did not want disputes with the West.

Mr Medvedev also said that Nato's role in the Georgian conflict proved that the military bloc was unable to provide security in Europe.

"What has Nato done, what has it guaranteed? It only provoked the conflict. That's all," he said.

The fighting began on 7 August when Georgia tried to retake its breakaway region of South Ossetia by force after a series of lower-level clashes.

Russia launched a counter-attack and the Georgian troops were ejected from both South Ossetia and Abkhazia - another Georgia's rebel region - several days later.

The Kremlin later recognised Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states. So far, Nicaragua is the only other country to have done so.





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