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Russia-West crisis enters 'breathing period'

Contradictory messages are rampant as the EU and US reconsider security pledges to Georgia while new players such as Iran and Turkey enter the game.

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The effort to resolve the Russia-Georgia war and its fallout is entering a period of uneasy waiting and testing in Europe, the United States, Russia, and the Caucasus. All sides are entering what some diplomats call a "breathing period" amid the global credit crisis.

Conflicting messages are rampant as the international community waits to see if Russian troops withdraw from Georgian territories by Oct. 10.

"We need to wait and see if Russia pulls all its troops out of the buffer zones on Oct. 10," says Francois Heisbourg, special adviser to the Foundation for Strategic Research in Paris. "In the EU, there's a tight link between implementing the cease-fire and future talks. The latter won't happen without the former."

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in New York that Western efforts to "isolate" Russia have not succeeded.

But Paul Goble, a former Central Intelligence Agency and State Department specialist on Russian nationalities points out that "Moscow thought it would get more support from its traditional allies over Georgia." He adds that Russia's markets are down 57 percent.

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