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Moscow says U.S. seeks control of post-Soviet states

YEREVAN, September 3 (RIA Novosti) - The visit by U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine is aimed at establishing Washington's control of these post-Soviet states, a Russian top security official said on Wednesday.

Cheney arrived in Azerbaijan's capital of Baku on Wednesday, the first stop of a trip that will also take him to Georgia and Ukraine less than a month after the start of a war between Georgia and Russia over South Ossetia.

"We know that Cheney is to visit Georgia, Azerbaijan, and Ukraine, and he will probably attempt to reassure them about this situation [the Georgia-South Ossetia conflict] and will, it seems apparent, once again act in such a way as to exert U.S. influence over them," Nikolai Patrushev said.

Cheney's tour is seen as a show of support for the U.S.'s ally, Georgia, amid Russia's worsening relationship with the West.

Cheney is the most senior U.S. official to visit Georgia since Russian tanks moved into the South Caucasus state following Tbilisi's unsuccessful attempt to retake the rebel province of South Ossetia by force.

Georgia invaded South Ossetia on August 8 in an attempt to regain control over the republic, which split from Tbilisi in the early 1990s. Georgian peacekeepers and regular troops also attacked Russian peacekeepers stationed in the region. Moscow subsequently launched an operation to "force Georgia to accept peace." The operation was concluded on August 12.

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