Russian leader: We will fight to defend interests

Medvedev ordered a massive counter-attack in August after forces under Georgia's pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili tried to retake South Ossetia.

Russian leader: We will fight to defend interests

Russia reserves the right to use force again to defend its interests and will not tolerate attempts by Western powers to contain it, President Dmitry Medvedev said in an interview broadcast on Wednesday.

In an end-of-year interview that signalled an uncompromising stance towards U.S. President-elect Barack Obama's incoming administration, Medvedev said Russia's war with Georgia in August showed that tough action was sometimes unavoidable.

"Russia's interests must be secured by all means available, this is my deep conviction. First of all, by international and legal tools ... but, when necessary, by using an element of force," Medvedev said in the interview, which was shown on Russia's main television stations.

"If there is an attack on the lives and dignity of Russian citizens, then Russia's position will, of course, be extremely simple and reasonably tough. We will ... protect and stand up for the interests of our citizens everywhere."

Medvedev ordered a massive counter-attack in August after forces under Georgia's pro-Western President Mikheil Saakashvili tried to retake South Ossetia, a breakaway region of Georgia where most residents hold Russian passports.

The Russian leader said he was compelled to act to prevent a genocide but Western states said the Russian action -- which included sending troops to within a few kilometres (miles) of the Georgian capital -- was disproportionate.

Medvedev alarmed some in the West by announcing the deployment of missiles to the Western outpost of Kaliningrad in retaliation for U.S. plans, bitterly opposed in Moscow, to build a missile defence system in Poland and the Czech Republic.

In the interview, a transcript of which was posted on Medvedev's official Internet site, www.kremlin.ru, he also attacked long-term plans by the NATO alliance to expand eastwards by allowing ex-Soviet Ukraine and Georgia to join.

"Today I do indeed feel an attempt to 'put Russia in its place.' And if, sometime ago, when Russia was in a quite different situation, such attempts could still yield some results, in today's situation .... this is simply inadmissible," Medvedev said.

Reuters
Last Mod: 25 Aralık 2008, 12:34
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