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High tensions in Georgia ahead of Russian wit -

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ELEANOR HALL: Tensions remain high in Georgia, as the international community watches to see
whether Russia will honour its pledge to withdraw its troops later today.

While the Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili is seeking talks with his Russian counterpart, the
US secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has already questioned whether Russia's promise is genuine.

And Georgia's neighbours are clearly nervous about Russia's plans and are moving to shore up ties
with the West, as Europe correspondent Rafael Epstein reports.

RAPHAEL EPSTEIN: Since the conflict in Georgia erupted, the rhetoric between Russia and its
neighbours has reached dangerous new levels.

First Poland announced last week that it had reached a deal with Washington to base American
missile interceptors on its territory. One of Russia's most senior generals responded by saying
Poland, by deploying the system, is exposing itself 100 per cent to a nuclear strike.

Now Ukraine has said it is ready to make its missile early warning systems available to European
nations.

President Viktor Yushchenko went to Georgia last week.

VIKTOR YUSHCHENKO (translated): The task of the presidential mission is to show that Georgia is not
alone. That in this age, the power of reason should not be replaced by the iron fist.

RAPHAEL EPSTEIN: In 2006 Russia cut off natural gas supplies to Ukraine to try and to weaken Victor
Yushchenko's Government and many believe his dramatic change in appearance in recent years came
about after he was poisoned by Russian would-be assassins.

Now Ukraine has told Moscow the Russian navy ships that uses its Black Sea ports will not be
allowed to return from their current operations in Georgia, without asking for permission 10 days
before they steam back to Sevastopol on the Crimean Peninsula.

The same Russian General that threatened Poland dismissed the new requirement as illegitimate.

Moscow-based defence analyst Pavel Felgenhauer told American radio that Ukraine could be Russia's
next target.

PAVEL FELGENHAUER: Russia right now wants at least half of Ukraine to annexe. Vladimir Putin talked
about that rather openly at the NATO summit in Bucharest in Romania in April. Ukraine will
disintegrate into two halves, and we want the eastern half, including of course, first and
foremost, Crimea.

RAPHAEL EPSTEIN: In Prague, on Wednesday Czech's will mark the 40th anniversary of the Soviet
invasion. The Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek wrote in a newspaper column that "the Russian tanks on
the streets of Georgian towns remind us of the invasion in 1968." He said "it is not just history.
It is still, even now, a relevant question".

He wants his political opponents to support his unpopular intention to also sign up to the US
missile defence shield.

His ambassador in London is Jan Winkler.

JAN WINKLER: This is no grey zone. This is definitely part of the West. Secondly Czechs are
seriously considering how to contribute to the alliance and as we are not a country used to project
force into distant countries, our contribution rather could be to offer our territory for having
military installation.

RAPHAEL EPSTEIN: But The Czechs can at least take some assurance from their membership of NATO.

Ukraine is still on the waiting list for membership and its ethnic Russian minority, which makes up
17 per cent of the total population of 46 million, makes it far more vulnerable.

And Poland's new deal with Washington includes a provision that any military assistance will come
more swiftly than that mandated under the NATO alliance.

Poland's Prime Minister Donald Tusk says it is no good when assistance comes to dead people. Poland
he says wants to be in alliances where assistance comes in the very first hours of any possible
conflict.

This is Raphael Epstein for The World Today.