Russian lawmakers voted unanimously today to recognize the independence of two Georgian breakaway regions, leaving the final decision to President Dmitry Medvedev, the Independent reports. The move threatens to further strain Russian-Western relations as Russian troops remained in Georgia with orders to inspect all shipments arriving at a Black Sea port.
Meanwhile France called for a crisis meeting of EU nations in Brussels next week to consider relations with Russia. But Medvedev called it "no great loss" if his nation split with NATO. "We are ready to take any decision" from NATO, he said, "up to halting relations altogether. If this breaks nothing terrible will happen to us."