Putin harshly defends Russian war in Georgia

MOSCOW (AP) -- Prime Minister Vladimir Putin is harshly defending Russian war in Georgia and he insists that Russia is not trying to annex former Soviet republics.

Putin is speaking to foreign policy experts meeting in Sochi.

He says Russia had to invade Georgia after Georgia attacked South Ossetia's main city on Aug. 7.

He says if Russia had not invaded it would have been like Russia "getting a bloody nose and hanging its head down."

Putin also said Thursday that Russia has, "no wish or grounds to encroach on the sovereignty of former Soviet republics."

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

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