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Russia courts old allies, steps up defiance of the West

President Dmitry Medvedev said Saturday that Russia is 'a nation to be reckoned with.'

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Tough talk: President Dimitry Medvedev said Saturday that the war in Georgia showed the world that "Russia is a nation to be reckoned with" at a State Council meeting (above) in Moscow.

Sergei Chirikov/AP

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Russia is groping for fresh ways to engage with the world after its lightning-fast summer war with Georgia chilled relations with the West and dismayed even some of its closest regional allies.

"We are facing the beginning of a complete review of Russian foreign policy," says Fyodor Lukyanov, editor of Russia in Global Affairs, a leading Moscow foreign-policy journal. "Things have changed and, based on what Russian leaders are saying, our long effort to integrate with Western institutions, to become part of the Western system, is over. The aim now is to be an independent power in a multipolar world in which Russia is a major player."

Analysts here are divided over whether a "new cold war" between Russia and the West is in the offing, but a growing sense of isolation is leading Moscow to circle the wagons closer to home and to revive alliances with former Soviet allies such as Syria and Cuba, and new partners such as Venezuela.

At a State Council meeting with Russian regional leaders Saturday, President Dmitry Medvedev announced that national security will have to be bolstered to counteract unnamed forces "who are trying to exert political pressure on Russia."

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