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Putin Reaches Out to EU as Georgia Calls for Sanctions

Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin has urged the European Union to ignore Georgia's call for sanctions on Russia after Moscow's intervention in the Caucasus.

In an interview with Germany's ARD television Friday, Mr. Putin called on the 27-nation bloc to take what he called a rational and objective stance on the Georgian conflict. He blamed Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili for starting the conflict, and he criticized the United States for supporting the Georgian leadership.

Georgia's Foreign Ministry Saturday said it has stopped issuing visas to Russian citizens at all border checkpoints.

On Friday, Georgia announced that it is breaking diplomatic relations with Russia and withdrawing from all bilateral peacekeeping agreements, after Moscow recognized the independence of Georgia's breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia earlier this week.

Russia says it will close its embassy in Tbilisi.

A top member of Georgia's ruling United National Movement, Davit Darchiashvili, has called the break largely symbolic. He said Georgia recalled its ambassador from Moscow in July and there has been virtually no diplomatic contact for months.

Consular ties have not been severed.

Georgian troops went into South Ossetia August seventh to try to retake control of the breakaway region. Russia replied with tanks and thousands of troops, saying it had to protect Russian citizens there.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.