Russia Criticizes EU Threats Over Georgia Conflict

Russia criticized the European Union on Tuesday for threatening to postpone talks on a new economic and political partnership deal over the war in Georgia, saying the EU's statements were biased.

EU officials said Monday in Brussels that unless Russian troops pull back from positions in Georgia, talks on the wide-ranging agreement would be put off. However, the move is widely seen as just a slap-on-the-wrist for Moscow.

"Naturally, we cannot agree with a number of biased statements regarding Russia in the final declaration of the summit, including the assertion that our reaction to the Georgian aggression was disproportionate," the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

Britain and Eastern European nations at the summit held out for a tougher line, but Europe's dependence on Russian oil and natural gas deterred the EU from stronger sanctions.

"The main thing, however, is that they are in the minority and the majority of EU countries have manifested a responsible approach and confirmed their intention to continue the partnership with Russia," the foreign ministry statement said.

Russia's NATO envoy, meanwhile, accused the United States of pushing Poland and the ex-Soviet Baltic states to demand tougher sanctions against Russia.

"It is clear who the losing side is: the policy pursued by the Polish president and his Baltic co-thinkers," Dmitry Rogozin was quoted by Interfax as saying.

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

French President Nicolas Sarkozy said he plans to travel to Moscow on Monday for talks with the Russian leadership. A cease-fire he brokered to end fighting between Russian and Georgia calls for forces to be withdrawn to their positions before the war.

Also on Tuesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov met his Turkish counterpart for talks on the Georgian crisis.

Turkey has threatened to retaliate against new Russian import controls that are seen as an attempt to punish Turkey for allowing U.S. warships carrying aid to Georgia to pass through the Turkish straits, which connect the Mediterranean to the Black Sea.

The extra import checks for Turkish goods have resulted in hundreds of Turkish trucks being held up at Russian border posts.