Rice: This isn't 1968 Czechoslovakia invasion

Rice says Russia can't threaten a neighbor, occupy a capital, overthrow a government and get away with it.

rice walks the walk 224. (photo credit: AP)
rice walks the walk 224.
(photo credit: AP)
The Bush administration demanded Wednesday that Russia end all military activities in neighboring Georgia and sent US aid to devastated Georgians. "This is not 1968 and the invasion of Czechoslovakia, where Russia can threaten a neighbor, occupy a capital, overthrow a government and get away with it," Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said. "Things have changed." Despite her words, the United States seems to be struggling to find a way to persuade Russia to honor a cease-fire and halt military moves toward the Georgian capital after six days of war over two breakaway regions in the former Soviet republic. "I have heard the Russian president say that his military operations are over. I am saying it is time for the Russian president to be true to his word," Rice said at a State Department news conference just hours before traveling to France to deal with the crisis. Earlier, President George W. Bush had announced he was sending Rice to Europe and then to Georgia, a strong US ally. "The United States stands with the democratically elected government of Georgia and insists that the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia be respected," Bush said during brief but stern remarks in the White House Rose Garden. Moscow's apparent violation of a cease-fire in neighboring Georgia puts its global aspirations at risk, he said. "To begin to repair the damage to its relations with the United States, Europe and other nations and to begin restoring its place in the world, Russia must keep its word and act to end this crisis," Bush said. Bush also announced a massive US humanitarian effort that would involve American aircraft and naval forces. A US C-17 military cargo plane, loaded with supplies, landed in Georgia on Wednesday, and Bush said Russia must ensure that "all lines of communication and transport, including seaports, roads and airports," remain open to let deliveries and civilians through. Rice said Russia needs to respect the US aid effort to help the people of Georgia. The top US diplomat made a point of noting that both presumed candidates for the Nov. 4 presidential election have offered support to the Bush administration. Asked if Republican John McCain and Democrat Barack Obama's conversations with Georgian and Russian leaders help or hurt, Rice said: "I've also been having conversations with Senators Obama and McCain. And I know that they are at this moment of difficult diplomacy that they are doing what they can to support the efforts of the administration."