Russia makes diplomatic counterpunch to Cheney tour

POTI, Georgia (AP) -- Vice President Cheney is visiting three former Soviet republics to show U.S. support for their attempts to distance themselves from Russia. But the same time, Russia is making its own diplomatic moves.

Cheney is in Ukraine today, where he says that nation should not be forced to live under Russia's "threat of tyranny, economic blackmail and military invasion." That follows visits to Azerbaijan and Georgia, which last month fought a five-day war with Russia over control of two breakaway provinces.

In a diplomatic counterpunch, Russia today received the support of six other former Soviet republics. They issued a joint statement condemning Georgia for using force to try to retake control of South Ossetia.

Meanwhile, the flagship of the U.S. Navy's Mediterranean fleet sits anchored outside a key Georgian port. It's bringing in tons of humanitarian aid to a city that is still partly occupied by hundreds of Russian troops.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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