Medvedev: Russia Won't Be Isolated

APMedvedev greeting General Staff chief Nikolai Makarov as Defense Minister Anatoly Serdyukov watches Saturday.
Stepping up a war of words with Washington, President Dmitry Medvedev said Friday that Russia would not be pushed into isolation and accused NATO of provoking last month's conflict in Georgia.

His comments came after U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Russia that its policies have put it on a path to isolation and called on the West to stand up to Russian aggression following its invasion of Georgia.

Without mentioning Rice, Medvedev said some "talk" was aimed at isolating Russia. "All the time the talk is, 'Look, finally they are showing their true faces, the regime is revealing its true colors, finally the side that is more characteristic for the Russia state has triumphed. The hawks have won,'" Medvedev said in a Kremlin speech. "In fact, we are being pushed down a path of development that is based not on full-fledged, civilized cooperation with other countries, but on autonomous development behind thick walls, behind an Iron Curtain."

Rice on Thursday accused the Kremlin of plunging Russia into global irrelevance with misguided and paranoid policies, The Associated Press reported.

"The attack on Georgia has crystallized the course that Russia's leaders are taking -- and brought us to a critical moment for Russia and the world," she said in a speech at a think tank.

She said Russia was reduced to cultivating relations with U.S. foes like Cuba and Venezuela to project its influence.

But Medvedev stressed that isolation was not the path Russia had chosen. "For us, there is no point in returning to the past. We have made our choice," he said. "No new outside factors" will cause Russia to change its course, he said.

Medvedev mocked a pledge by Rice that the United States would continue to support Russian judges through NGOs.

"I opened the Internet this morning, and I saw our American friends saying that they will back Russian teachers, doctors, scientists, unions leaders and judges. The last point was quite outstanding for me. What does it mean? Are they going to feed our judges? Are they going to support corruption?" Medvedev said. "If it goes on like this, they will start selecting presidents here."

Turning to NATO, Medvedev said the alliance's role in the Georgia conflict showed that it was unable to provide security in Europe and a new security mechanism was needed. "This is understood even by those who in private conversations with me say ... 'NATO will take care of everything,'" he said. "What did NATO secure, what did NATO ensure? NATO only provoked the conflict and nothing more than that."

Medvedev said Russia would strengthen its national security, modernize its military and increase the country's defense capability "to a sufficient level."

In London, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said Friday that the alliance saw no need to change its defense planning to respond to new security concerns after the Georgia war.

State Duma Deputy Speaker Oleg Morozov said Medvedev's speech that many politicians had been waiting for. "It is well known that NATO is not fulfilling any defense role anymore," he said by telephone. "There cannot be any defense body in Europe without the participation of Russia. This is what people in Russian political circles believed even before the Ossetian crisis."

n Medvedev on Saturday announced a major monthlong military exercise beginning Monday, AP reported.

The Defense Ministry said the exercise would be conducted with Belarus to prepare Russia's armed forces "for the liquidation of armed conflicts and the provision of strategic stability."