Russia’s role in global affairs at risk: Bush

August 14th, 2008 - 12:21 am ICT by IANS  

Washington, Aug 13 (DPA) Russia has placed its role in diplomatic and global economic affairs at “risk” with the military campaign in Georgia, US President George W. Bush said Wednesday. Bush accused Russia of continuing military operations inside of Georgia despite a ceasefire agreed upon Tuesday by taking up positions near key Georgian cities and threatening the capital Tbilisi.

“Unfortunately, we’re receiving reports of Russian actions that are inconsistent with these statements,” Bush said after meeting with his foreign policy team at the White House.

A US military C-17 cargo plane was flying to Georgia with supplies and the US Navy would play a role in the humanitarian mission to demonstrate “solidarity” with the Georgian people, Bush said.

“We expect Russia to honour its commitment to let in all forms of humanitarian assistance,” Bush said.

The US supported greater Russian integration into the diplomatic, political, economic, and security structures of the 21st century, Bush said.

“Now Russia is putting its aspirations at risk by taking actions in Georgia that are inconsistent with the principles of those institutions,” Bush said.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice has been ordered to travel to the Georgian capital Tbilisi to demonstrate “unwavering” support for Georgia after first stopping in France to discuss the ceasefire brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.

“On this trip, she will continue our efforts to rally the free world in the defence of a free Georgia,” Bush said, but did not say when Rice would depart Washington.

The conflict began when Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili ordered troops into the breakaway region of South Ossetia to quell attacks by separatists leaders backed by Moscow.

Russia responded with a military onslaught deep into Georgian territory outside of the disputed South Ossetia. Fighting quickly spread to Abkhazia, a second secessionist region.

Bush demanded Moscow immediately adhere to the truce and begin removing troops from the Caucasus republic. Russia must honour statements that it has no intention of removing Saakashvili’s pro-Western government, Bush said.

“The United States stands with the democratically elected government of Georgia and insists the sovereignty and territory of Georgia be respected,” Bush said, adding that Russian troops have been positioned outside the key city of Gori and the port city of Podi, giving them control of key transportation routes and the ability to “divide the country and threaten the capital Tbilisi”.

The United States and Georgia have become close friends under the Bush administration and, at the urging of the White House, NATO earlier this year announced its intention to invite Georgia and Ukraine, another former Soviet Republic, into the alliance.

The move angered the Kremlin, which worries about NATO’s eastward expansion closer to its borders.

Russia has also been angry about US plans to station a missile-defence system in former Soviet satellite states Poland and the Czech Republic. Moscow also objected to Kosovo’s independence from traditional ally Serbia and responded that it could set a precedence for Abkhazia and South Ossetia to move in a similar direction.

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