Russia weighs response to NATO ships

1ASDSA-2135.jpgMOSCOW, Russia (CNN) — Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says it is weighing its options following the arrival of more NATO vessels in the Black Sea, according to reports.

Russia Monday accused “foreign navy ships” of delivering weapons to Georgia as the European Union met to discuss possible sanctions against Moscow.

Putin, visiting Uzbekistan to promote the launch of a natural gas pipeline Tuesday, said that its response to ships would be “calm, without any sort of hysteria. But of course, there will be an answer,” the Associated Press reported.

Georgian troops attacked pro-Russian separatists in South Ossetia on August 7, triggering the Russian response. Each side offered conflicting figures on how many people died in the fighting.

Russia has not fully withdrawn its troops from Georgia after sending them across the border for what it called peacekeeping operations and what Georgia called an invasion.

Putin also questioned Tuesday the manner in which the United States had delivered humanitarian aid to Georgia.

“We don’t understand what American ships are doing on the Georgian shores, but this is a question of taste, it’s a decision by our American colleagues,” agencies reported Putin as saying.

“The second question is why the humanitarian aid is being delivered on naval vessels armed with the newest rocket systems.”

Earlier Tuesday Russian officials criticized the European Union for threatening to postpone talks on a new political and economic partnership deal.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Monday that the EU would have to re-examine its partnership with Russia if Moscow did not respect a cease-fire agreement.

Sarkozy, whose country holds the six-month rotating EU presidency, also confirmed that he will visit Moscow next week.

“We will be asking Russia to ensure the full and scrupulous respect of the (cease-fire) plan,” he said. “The EU would welcome a real partnership with Russia that is in the interests of all, but it takes two to tango. You have to be two to have a partnership.

“Therefore this crisis means that we have to re-examine our relationship with Russia.”

Meanwhile, Russia’s NATO envoy, Dmitry Rogozin, accused the U.S. of pushing Poland and the ex-Soviet Baltic states to demand tougher sanctions against Russia, AP reported.

“It is clear who the losing side is: the policy pursued by the Polish president and his Baltic co-thinkers,” Rogozin said.

They acted as “the advocates of Washington’s line to undermine pan-European cooperation,” he was quoted as saying.

EU leaders met Monday in Brussels, Belgium, to discuss how to react to Russia’s recognition of the breakaway Georgia regions Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states.

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