Bush slams Russian recognition of breakaway areas

US president says move violates UN resolutions and cease-fire deal Russia signed with Georgia to end war.

george bush 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
george bush 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
US President George W. Bush on Tuesday urged Russia to reconsider its "irresponsible decision" to shower independent status on two breakaway Georgian provinces. Already rebuffed by Russian President Dmitry Medvedev, Bush warned Russia to change course and respect the borders of its Georgian neighbor. "Russia's action only exacerbates tensions and complicates diplomatic negotiations," the president said by written statement from Texas, where he is vacationing. Medvedev said Tuesday that his country will grant diplomatic recognition to the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. He said Georgia forced Russia's hand by trying to gain control by force in the smaller of the two areas, South Ossetia, on Aug. 7. Bush shot back that Russia's move violates both United Nations resolutions and the six-point cease-fire deal that Russia, under Medvedev's watch, signed with Georgia to end war. "We expect Russia to live up to its international commitments, reconsider this irresponsible decision, and follow the approach set out in the six-point agreement," Bush said. The White House says the US will use its veto power to on the UN Security Council to ensure that the two separatist provinces remain part of Georgia in the eyes of the world. US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said that any push by Russia to do otherwise will be "dead on arrival" at the United Nations. The rhetoric underscored the stakes of a once obscure territorial dispute that has mushroomed into a Cold War-style conflict between the United States and Russia. Medvedev, meanwhile, warned that his country may offer a military response to a US missile shield in Europe. He said that the deployment of an anti-missile system close to Russian borders "will of course create additional tensions." "We will have to react somehow, to react, of course, in a military way," Medvedev was quoted as saying Tuesday by the RIA-Novosti news agency. The White House, though, sought to emphasize that Russia's real conflict was with the broader international community. Several world leaders criticized Russia's action on the two provinces. "Russia is making, I would say, a number of irrational decisions," commented Bush's Deputy Assistant Fratto said. "We hope that they hear the loud voices from the international community and understand that it's not in their long-term interests to take these kinds of actions," he said. Vice President Cheney leaves next week on a trip that includes a stop in Georgia; Fratto said that no US officials plan to go Russia to appeal directly to leaders there. "The Russians know their obligations and I don't know that it requires anyone going to Russia to inform them of it," he said. Meanwhile, the United States dispatched a military ship bearing aid to a Georgian port city still patrolled by Russian troops.