MOSCOW (AFP) - Moscow claimed victory Tuesday after EU leaders stepped back from imposing sanctions over Russia's partial occupation of neighbouring Georgia. Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, who retains huge power after leaving the presidency earlier this year, praised what he called the European Union's "common sense." Russia will react to a build-up of NATO naval forces in the Black Sea, Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin cautioned on Tuesday, quoted by Russian news agencies. EU leaders decided at an emergency summit in Brussels on Monday to freeze talks on a new strategic EU-Russia accord. But the bloc did not accept proposals by Britain and eastern European nations for harder measures, including sanctions, over Russia's August military offensive in Georgia and recognition of two separatist regions. "Thank God, common sense prevailed. We saw no extreme conclusions and proposals, and this is very good," Putin said in comments shown on NTV television. However, Georgia's pro-Western president, Mikheil Saakashvili, pointed to the freezing of EU-Russia partnership talks as proof of Western solidarity behind Georgia. "Russia failed to break the unity at the heart of Europe," he told France 24 television. US President George W. Bush, one of Moscow's harshest critics during the crisis, also "expressed appreciation for the EU sending strong messages," the White House said. The Russian Foreign Ministry hit out at EU leaders for freezing strategic talks with Moscow over the Georgia crisis, but also expressed relief that no economic sanctions were ordered. As Russia and its critics kept up their diplomatic offensives, US Vice President Dick Cheney departed Tuesday on a four-nation tour to support US allies Georgia and Ukraine, amid chilly relations with Russia over its military conflict with Georgia. Cheney's trip includes stops in Azerbaijan, Georgia, Ukraine and Italy. "The intention to freeze talks about a new partnership agreement is a cause for regret, although Moscow over the past two years has got used to artificial obstacles to this document," a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said. "As a whole, we believe that our partnership with the European Union should not be hostage to differences of opinion," the statement said, adding that Moscow was "ready for constructive, fair cooperation" with the EU. President Dmitry Medvedev also criticised what he called the European Union's failure to understand Russian motives for going to war in Georgia. "Unfortunately there is still no full understanding of the motives of the leadership of the Russian Federation when it took the decision to repel the aggression of Georgia," Medvedev said, according to state news agency ITAR-TASS. "This is sad, but not fatal," he was quoted as saying. On Tuesday, Georgia confirmed that it had cut diplomatic ties with Moscow. The previous day, hundreds of thousands of people - one million, according to the authorities - demonstrated against Russia's occupation. "The Russian Federation's envoy in Georgia, Andrei Smaga, has been summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and handed a note informing the Russian Federation that diplomatic relations between Georgia and Russia are severed," Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Nato Chikovani told AFP. "From this moment, there are no more diplomatic relations between the two countries," she said. Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said during a visit to Nato-member Turkey that the alliance had been arming Georgia ahead of the conflict. He also reiterated Russia's support for sending an international police mission to Georgia to help maintain security around South Ossetia and the similarly secessionist region of Abhkazia. However, the Russian envoy to the European Union was cautious on this issue, saying that the rebel governments in Abkhazia and South Ossetia would also have to agree.