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EU leaders considering sanctions against Russia - 2

EU countries are considering imposing sanctions on Russia over the Georgia crisis, the French foreign minister said on Thursday.
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MOSCOW/PARIS, August 28 (RIA Novosti) - EU countries are considering imposing sanctions on Russia over the Georgia crisis, the French foreign minister said on Thursday.

"Sanctions are being considered, as are many other measures," Bernard Kouchner said. He had earlier said that sanctions against Moscow were not on the agenda.

France, which holds the EU rotating presidency, has called an emergency EU summit on Monday to review relations with Russia.

Russia officially recognized South Ossetia and Abkhazia on Tuesday despite Western warnings, saying the move was needed to protect the regions following Georgia's August 8 attack on South Ossetia.

Kouchner gave no details of any possible sanctions, however. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov commented that the Russian authorities had heard nothing about any EU sanctions against Russia.

Lavrov also accused Kouchner of going beyond sanctions.

"Besides sanctions, he also said we will attack Ukraine, Moldova and the Crimea. This is diseased imagination," he said.

But Kouchner told Europe 1 radio: "France does not have a diseased imagination. France was part of events in Georgia and in Russia, where it fulfilled its work as European Union president. We do not want to halt the dialogue with Russia, absolutely not, and France does not propose introducing sanctions."

"The Russians are a bit nervous lately," he said.

Earlier Thursday, he said France itself was not proposing sanctions, but rather sought to find a collective position together with other EU members.

Moscow insists that it is in full compliance with a six-point peace deal hammered out in mid-August between Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and French leader Nicolas Sarkozy, although France and other Western countries dispute this.

The terms of the plan allow Russia to take extra security measures to prevent further violence in the region. Three weeks after the conflict, Russia maintains peacekeepers in a "buffer zone" between Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The ceasefire deal made no mention of Georgia's territorial integrity. Moscow has said Georgia lost its right to Abkhazia and South Ossetia when it launched its ground and air offensive against South Ossetia's capital, killing large numbers of civilians, mainly Russian nationals.

Seven of the world's leading industrialized nations have condemned Russia's decision to recognize Georgia's breakaway republics as independent, while calling on Moscow to withdraw its troops from Georgia.

The current standoff, in which ties between NATO and Russia have been frozen, has sparked media speculation that the seven leading industrial powers could oust Russia from the Group of Eight. However, the G7 statement avoided any hint of such a move, and British Foreign Minister David Miliband stressed on Wednesday that there were no such plans.

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