Georgiaâ€™s president has been visiting the Black Sea port of Poti â€“ inspecting the damage caused during the conflict with Russia over the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and maintaining the pressure ahead of Mondayâ€™s European Union summit on the situation.
Locals greeted Mikheil Saakashvili warmly, and cheered as he again branded Russian soldiers manning checkpoints around the port as â€œoccupiersâ€. But it is unlikely the EU will adopt sanctions in a bid to force Moscow to withdraw those troops.
France currently holds the rotating EU presidency, and foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, yesterday repeated Paris does not back sanctions. â€œFrance wants to maintain dialogue,â€ he said. â€œThe solution would have to be a political one, not a military one.â€
Russiaâ€™s latest salvo in the war of words came from Prime Minister Vladimir Putin who again hinted the US might have been involved in provoking the crisis â€“ something Washington has denied.
Putin admitted Moscow was not indifferent to the upcoming EU summit, and would be watching closely. But he said he hoped â€œgood sense would prevailâ€. â€œWe hope thereâ€™ll be a real, objective analysis of what really happened in South Ossetia and Abkhazia,â€ he added.
Moscow also announced it would withdraw personnel from its consulate in Tbilisi after Georgiaâ€™s parliament voted unanimously to break off diplomatic ties with Russia. Georgiaâ€™s diplomats in Moscow are reportedly heading home today.