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Page last updated at 16:17 GMT, Friday, 15 August 2008 17:17 UK

Bush condemns 'bullying' Russia

President Bush: "Russia must respect the freedom of its neighbours"

US President George W Bush has accused Russia of "bullying and intimidation" in its military actions inside Georgia.

Mr Bush demanded that Moscow respect Georgia's territorial integrity and withdraw the troops it sent in a week ago - or risk international isolation.

The crisis began when Georgia attacked the breakaway region of South Ossetia, sparking Russian intervention.

Georgia's President Mikhail Saakashvili said he had signed a ceasefire deal - but that it was not a final settlement.

The six-point ceasefire agreement was brokered by France, and was presented by the US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, in Tbilisi.

It includes a pledge to pull all troops back to their pre-conflict positions, and a plan to begin international talks about the future status of South Ossetia and a second breakaway region, Abkhazia.

PEACE PLAN
Russian troops outside the Georgian port town of Poti
No more use of force
Stop all military actions for good
Free access to humanitarian aid
Georgian troops return to their places of permanent deployment
Russian troops to return to pre-conflict positions
International talks about future status of South Ossetia and Abkhazia

In a joint news conference with Ms Rice following nearly five hours of talks, Mr Saakashvili said he would never accept any part of his country being occupied.

He gave an emotional address, referring to Russia as "cold-blooded killers" and "barbarians", and he said that Georgia was now "looking evil directly in the eye".

But Mr Saakashvili also criticised the West for failing to react strongly enough to previous Russian military moves and for not granting his country Nato membership earlier this year.

Ms Rice said that Russia had to accept Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity, and demanded a withdrawal of all Russia military from Georgia "at once".

But as the pair spoke, there were reports of Russian anti-personnel carriers moving closer towards the Georgian capital, setting up a new checkpoint about 35km (22 miles) outside Tbilisi.

Earlier, the Russian President, Dmitry Medvedev, demanded that Georgia sign the deal immediately - but said only Russia could guarantee peace in the region.

'Guarantor' of security

In a statement at the White House, Mr Bush accused Russia of "bullying and intimidation", saying it was an unacceptable "way to conduct foreign policy in the 21st Century".

Mr Medvedev said the EU-brokered peace deal was key to solving the conflict

"Only Russia can decide whether it will now put itself back on the path of responsible nations or continue to pursue a policy that promises only confrontation and isolation."

Meanwhile, after talks with President Medvedev in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, German Chancellor Angela Merkel described the Russian response as "disproportionate".

But Mr Medvedev said Russia was the "guarantor" of the interests and lives of those in South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

He said they trusted Russian troops, and that this had to be taken into account.

'Peacekeeping mandate'

Mr Medvedev said he did not want to damage relations with other countries but that Russia had to fulfil its peacekeeping mandate, and that it would respond in the same way to any future attack.

He added that a new deal to base part of a US missile defence system on Polish soil was aimed at the Russian federation.

Washington - which says the timing is not linked to the Georgian crisis - insists that the shield is to protect against "rogue states" such as Iran.

A displaced Georgian woman rests just outside the town of Gori (15/08/08)

But, says the BBC's Jonathan Beale in Washington, the US is now likely to be less worried about Russian objections and more anxious to send signals to European allies like Poland that it is prepared to guarantee their protection.

Moscow's troops continue to operate deep inside the Caucasus republic.

The BBC's Richard Galpin, in the Georgian port of Poti, says Russian forces have taken control of the naval dockyard - with the apparent intent to destroy or remove Georgian military and naval equipment.

Russian forces still control Gori, which lies some 15km (10 miles) from South Ossetia and on a key route to Tbilisi, and there is also a major contingent near the town of Senaki, our correspondent says.

At a news conference, the Russian army earlier said it had seized a large depot of American-made arms near Senaki.

The crisis began when Georgia attacked South Ossetia on 7 August, sparking Russian retaliation. Scores of people have died in the fighting.

Map of region




FROM OTHER NEWS SITES
Globe and Mail Georgia accuses Russia of ethnic cleansing' - 2 hrs ago
Chicago TribuneU.S.-Russia ties take a sharp turn - 7 hrs ago
Moscow Times Medvedev Backs Independence Bids - 14 hrs ago
Chicago Sun-Times Russian troops scour Georgia - 14 hrs ago
CNN Shaky Cease-fire between Russia and Georgia; British Television Reporter Roughed Him Up During a Pro-Tibet Rally; Trend in Foreclosures Continues Increasing; Comedian Margaret Cho Returns to TV - 18 hrs ago
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