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China, neighbors, cool on Russian action in Georgia

FILE; TEH ENG KOON/AFP/Getty Images Dmitry Medvedev may have hoped the Shanghai Cooperation Organization would evolve from a loose security bloc into an anti-NATO counterweight, but so far things don’t look like they’re going in the Russian president’s favor.  On Thursday, Medvedev asked the group, which also includes China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, to ...

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FILE; TEH ENG KOON/AFP/Getty Images

Dmitry Medvedev may have hoped the Shanghai Cooperation Organization would evolve from a loose security bloc into an anti-NATO counterweight, but so far things don't look like they're going in the Russian president's favor. 

On Thursday, Medvedev asked the group, which also includes China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, to back Russia's response to Georgian "aggression." Instead, while the group welcomed "Russia's active role in contributing to peace and co-operation in the region," it condemned the use of force and reaffirmed its support for the sovereignty of the countries involved:

FILE; TEH ENG KOON/AFP/Getty Images

Dmitry Medvedev may have hoped the Shanghai Cooperation Organization would evolve from a loose security bloc into an anti-NATO counterweight, but so far things don’t look like they’re going in the Russian president’s favor. 

On Thursday, Medvedev asked the group, which also includes China, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, to back Russia’s response to Georgian “aggression.” Instead, while the group welcomed “Russia’s active role in contributing to peace and co-operation in the region,” it condemned the use of force and reaffirmed its support for the sovereignty of the countries involved:

The SCO states express grave concern in connection with the recent tensions around the South Ossetian issue and urge the sides to solve existing problems peacefully, through dialogue, and to make efforts facilitating reconciliation and talks,” their statement said.

That China and the others spoke of respecting territorial integrity should come as no surprise. From its relations with Sudan abroad to its concerns with seperatists in Tibet and Xinjiang at home, China has long expressed a policy of non-intervention.

Russia, too, was often a strong opponent of Western interventions — in Iraq and Kosovo, among others — which makes its military action in Georgia all the more galling. Its Asian allies, though, haven’t jumped on board. That, at the very least, should be a comforting sign for the West amid cries of a new Cold War.

For more on how Russia’s recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia may backfire, check out FP‘s interview with regional expert and CIA veteran Paul Goble.

Patrick Fitzgerald is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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