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Russia Leader Says US Delivering Weapons to Georgia in Guise of Aid


Russian President Dmitri Medvedev accused the United States of re-arming the Georgian army Saturday, using humanitarian aid as a cover. The leader's charges came as European Union foreign ministers met to discuss the conflict in Georgia. Emma Stickgold has this report for the VOA in Moscow.

President Dmitri Medvedev's strongly-worded comments came a day after the U.S. Sixth fleet sailed into the Georgian port of Poti, to deliver humanitarian aid.

Under the close watch of Russian forces, 17 tons of humanitarian aid was dropped off at the Black Sea port. U.S. officials said the ships were delivering items such as toothpaste, toilet paper, blankets and other necessities, while Russian officials alleged that the shipments were also delivering weapons.

In a speech delivered before the State Council, a group of regional governors, industry leaders and federal officials, Mr. Medvedev said that the Western countries failed to show Russia support during the conflict.

Medvedev said, "Russia will never allow anyone to infringe upon the lives and dignity of its citizens," adding "Russia is a nation to be reckoned with from now on."

Georgian troops launched an attack last month to try to take back the breakaway region of South Ossetia. Russia responded by sending troops into Georgia, and remain there, in "security zones."

U.S. officials said that 450 tons of aid has been delivered to Georgia on naval ships and U.S. planes, and that the flagship of the most recent fleet to bring aid was followed by a Russian warship.

European Union leaders met Saturday in southern France to determine how to respond to the actions of both Russia and Georgia. Several foreign ministers called for an independent inquiry to find out what exactly happened, while others hoped to figure out whether human rights abuses took place.

The United States has lambasted Moscow for what it called a disproportionate military response and provided humanitarian and economic aid to Georgia.

Vice President Dick Cheney, at an economic meeting Saturday in Italy, blasted Russian actions in the war as an "affront to civilized standards" and said Moscow has given "no satisfactory justification" for invading Georgia.

The E.U. has halted partnership talks with Moscow, saying that it will resume once troops have conformed to an E.U.-backed peace plan.

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