Kremlin Won't Budge on Frozen Conflicts

Russia is committed to negotiate a new EU partnership pact at the Khanty-Mansiisk summit but will stick to its guns over so-called "frozen conflicts," a senior Kremlin aide said Wednesday.

EU and Russia share an interest in resolving the frozen conflicts involving Kosovo, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, Transdnestr and Nagorno-Karabakh, but "our practical approaches … in many concrete cases do not coincide," Kremlin foreign policy aide Sergei Prikhodko said, Interfax reported.

Prikhodko said Russia does not want any changes to the current format of negotiations over the conflicts.

For example, Russia has insisted that any resolution with Georgia's separatist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia be made on the basis of a consensus on all sides and with Russian mediation. Tbilisi has tried to get the EU involved in the negotiations, accusing Moscow of tacitly supporting the separatist regions.

Prikhodko defended Russia's decision this year to lift economic sanctions on South Ossetia and Abkhazia, saying residents there deserved access to "social and economic protection."

Prikhodko also said Russia continues to oppose Kosovo's independence, arguing that it ran contrary to the will of Serbia and Serbs living in the region.

Whatever pact the EU and Russia negotiate at the two-day summit, which opens Thursday evening, it should be a legally binding document, Senator Vasily Likhachev said Wednesday.

"It could be a short document but a legally binding one," said Likhachev, deputy chairman of the Federation Council's International Affairs Committee, Interfax reported. He said the pact will have sections on international security, justice, economic cooperation and cooperation in culture and education.