MOSCOW (AFP) - Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Friday likened the Georgian military assault on South Ossetia that led to last month's war to the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States. "Almost immediately after these events it occurred to me that for Russia, August 8, 2008 was almost like September 11, 2001 in the United States," Medvedev told Western foreign policy experts in Moscow. Russia responded on that date and routed the US-trained Georgian army in a conflict estimated to have killed hundreds of people on both sides and left tens of thousands more displaced in temporary camps. In Tbilisi, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili faced his most significant political challenge since the war as a former ally openly questioned his leadership and said she would set up her own party. Exactly one month after an EU-brokered truce ended the conflict, Georgian officials said there was little sign on the ground that Russia had started pulling an estimated 1,470 troops from the main part of Georgia. There were no signs of Russian troops moving from some of their bases near the oil terminal of Poti, the Georgian airbase at Senaki and the Inguri hydroelectric dam, which produces nearly half of Georgia's power supply. Saakashvili, meanwhile, was warned he would face "tough questions" over his handling of the crisis with Russia. Nino Burjanadze, a two-time interim president and former speaker of parliament, called for an independent investigation into the events leading up to Georgia's five-day war with Russia. In Moscow, Medvedev further ratcheted up the war of words with the West, saying Russia would have responded in exactly the same way had Georgia been granted official Nato applicant status. "I would not have hesitated for a second to take the same decision," Medvedev told the media forum, according to participants. "Almost immediately after these events it occurred to me that for Russia, August 8, 2008 was almost like September 11, 2001 in the United States," Medvedev told a high-profile group of Western foreign policy experts in Moscow. "There were many useful lessons from 9/11 in the United States. I would like the world to draw its own lessons from what happened" in August, Medvedev said, adding: "The world changed." Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov ruled out any discussion of Moscow's recognition of independence for South Ossetia and Abkhazia - or on their status " at international talks set for October 15 in Geneva. He also announced he planned to visit Abkhazia on Sunday and South Ossetia on Monday. In Sofia, chiefs of staff from Nato's 26 member countries met Friday for a three-day conference to discuss the alliance's common defence policy in the wake of the Georgia-Russia conflict. "We have to prepare the Alliance to meet the security challenges of the future," the new Chairman of Nato's Military Committee (MC), Italy's Admiral Giampaolo di Paola, said at the opening of the talks, noting it was important to "look into the future." "What happened in the last few weeks is a reminder how security is always changing," he added, suggesting the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation had been caught unawares by the recent conflict between Russia and Georgia. Participants, including representatives from Nato candidate