I’m continuing to see hopeful signs of life from NATO and Rice:
NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said on Tuesday that the Russians are not now honoring the terms.
“There can be no business as usual with Russia under the present circumstances,” Scheffer said.
The announcement came after foreign ministers from NATO member nations gathered in Belgium for an emergency meeting over the crisis between Russia and Georgia which also involved U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Hopes of resolving the conflict had been boosted when on Tuesday Georgia and Russia exchanged soldiers who had been captured during the fighting, then Russia agreed to a beefed-up monitoring mission for Georgia’s disputed region of South Ossetia.
Russia also began deploying troops from the strategically key Georgian city of Gori, The Associated Press reported.
Rice arrived at NATO headquarters on Tuesday a day after saying that Moscow was playing “a dangerous game” by re-asserting its power across the border.
NATO ministers were expected to discuss what the alliance can do to support Georgia and “deny Russia’s strategic objectives,” Rice said.
NATO’s internal debate, which centers around the level of diplomatic contact with Russia, is relatively modest:
Washington called on Nato nations to consider at least suspending ministerial meetings with Russia, but Britain and others said it would be counter-productive to cut channels of communication with Moscow now.
British Foreign Secretary David Miliband, who attended the meeting, is flying to Georgia to voice support to Tbilisi.
Before leaving he told Sky News: “Russia wants to be a respected international player and it can only be so if it lives up to its international commitments.
“I think it’s important that we don’t pursue a policy of trying to isolate Russia. What we need is hard-headed engagement. But we will make sure it’s not business as usual.”
The possibility of Georgian membership in NATO won’t be officially discussed until December:
Membership Action Plan (MAP) status for Georgia and Ukraine is due to be reviewed at a December meeting.
“I don’t expect that we will — and nor have we sought to — accelerate MAP for Georgia,” Rice said.
“We have said that was a matter for December and we will take that up in December.”