THE President of Russia has called on Europe's leaders to create a new world order that would minimise the role of the United States.
Confident that a row with Europe prompted by Russia's invasion of Georgia in August was over, Dmitry Medvedev arrived in the French spa town of Evian on Wednesday determined to woo his fellow leaders into creating an anti-US front.
Gone was the kind of wartime rhetoric that saw Mr Medvedev lash out at the West and describe his Georgian counterpart, Mikheil Saakashvili, as a "lunatic". Instead Mr Medvedev spoke of a Russia that was "absolutely not interested in confrontation", and outlined plans for a new security pact to ban the use of force in Europe.
Yet there was little doubt that Mr Medvedev was playing the divide-and-rule tactics of Vladimir Putin, his predecessor and now Prime Minister, by seeking to pit the US against its European allies.
In a speech delivered to European leaders at a conference hosted by the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, to discuss the international financial crisis, Mr Medvedev sought to show that the US was at the root of all the world's problems. He blamed Washington's "economic egotism" for the world's financial woes and then accused the Bush Administration of taking Europe to the brink of a new cold war by pursuing a deliberately divisive foreign policy.
He also maintained that the US was once again trying to return to a policy of containing Russia.
"After toppling the Taliban regime in Afghanistan, the United States started a series of unilateral actions," Mr Medvedev said.
"As a result, a trend appeared in international relations towards creating dividing lines. This was in fact the revival of a policy popular in the past and known as containment."
While he called for a cooling of the noxious rhetoric that had blighted East-West relations over the past two years, Mr Medvedev clearly laid the blame for the deterioration on the US, which he said was again viewing Russia through the prism of the Cold War. "Sovietology, like paranoia, is a very dangerous disease, and it is a pity that part of the US Administration still suffers from it," he said.
In order to end the "unipolar" model in which the world depended on the US, he proposed creating new financial systems to challenge the dominance of the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organisation, both of which had fallen under Washington's spell.
Attacking the enlargement of NATO, which he said had advanced provocatively towards Russia, he proposed a new European security treaty.
The new European pact would include "a clear affirmation of the inadmissibility of the use of force - or the threat of force - in international relations" and would be built on the principle of the territorial integrity of independent nations.
While Russia has insisted it was not intending to supplant NATO, Mr Medvedev made it clear that the US-dominated alliance was partly responsible for the war in the Caucasus by its failure to rein in Georgian "aggression".
The Russian President won praise from Mr Sarkozy after he announced that all Russian troops had been withdrawn from buffer zones around Georgia's rebel enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia before today's deadline.
Describing his guest as a man who had "kept his word", Mr Sarkozy immediately declared that talks on an EU-Russia partnership deal, suspended as punishment for Russia's military operation in Georgia, could resume.
Telegraph, London; Guardian News & Media
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