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Last Updated: Tuesday, 2 December, 2003, 17:21 GMT
Russia in row over ex-USSR states
By Steven Eke
BBC regional analyst

US Secretary of State Colin Powell
Powell has said the world should support Georgia's territorial integrity
A major European security conference has ended on a sour note as differences between Russia and the US over Georgia and Moldova became public.

Russia left the Organisation for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) conference, saying it was not bound by the final statement's text.

The document re-affirms support for Georgia's territorial integrity and a multinational peace force for Moldova.

Russia's policies in the countries have drawn criticism from Western nations.

'Meddling' claim

Delegates from Russia, the US and the OSCE had reportedly negotiated all night at the conference in the Dutch city of Maastricht, to try to reach a common language over the situation in Moldova and Georgia.

But the disagreements remain stark.

Earlier on Tuesday US Secretary of State Colin Powell - in remarks that appeared to be aimed firmly at Russia - said no support should be given to Georgia's separatist regions.

This came a day after the acting Georgian president accused Russia of meddling in its affairs.

In Moldova, Russia has also been criticised for not withdrawing its troops from the breakaway Transdniester region.

US concerns

Last week, Moscow hosted meetings with the leaders of the three separatist regions, two of which - Abkhazia and South Ossetia - want to leave Georgia altogether and become part of Russia.

Mr Powell's comments echoed the sentiments expressed by Nino Burdzhanadze, the acting Georgian president.

Earlier, she said that Georgia wants a new relationship with Russia, but not at the expense of its sovereignty.

Similar remarks came from Moldova's defence minister, who suggested recalcitrance is the real reason why Russian troops are still in Transdniester, four years after an agreement to withdraw them was signed.

'Putin Doctrine'

A Russian-brokered plan to resolve Moldova's internal conflict, which would have made the presence of the Russian troops permanent, set off mass protests and was shelved at the last minute.

Over recent months, senior Russian officials have begun to expand what has become known as the Putin Doctrine - the notion that history has given Russia the right to intervene in the affairs of the former Soviet republics.

Such intervention, albeit diplomatic rather than military, has been seen most recently in the smaller, poorer and more restless territories in the southern flank of Russia's former empire.

But Russia's moves have not gone unnoticed.

Indeed, there is every sign they are causing concern in Washington and in Europe.

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