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McCain Calls For Russia to Back Off in South Ossetia

DES MOINES, Iowa — Immediately after de-boarding the Straight Talk Express jet, Sen. John McCain sought to highlight his foreign-policy chops by giving a statement on the tarmac on Russia’s military involvement in Georgia, where a small region that has long been an area of conflict, South Ossetia, has broken away from the government.

Today, the news reports indicate that Russian military forces crossed an internationally-recognized border into the sovereign territory of Georgia. Russia should immediately and unconditionally cease its military operations and withdraw all forces from sovereign Georgian territory. What is most critical now is to avoid further confrontation between Russian and Georgian military forces. The consequences of Euro-Atlantic stability and security are grave. The government of Georgia has called for a cease fire and for a resumption of direct talks on South Ossetia with international mediators. The United States should immediately convene an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council to call on Russia to reverse course. The U.S. should immediately work with the [European Union] and the [Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe] to put diplomatic pressure on Russia to reverse this perilous course that it has chosen. We should immediately call a meeting of the North Atlantic Council to assess Georgia’s security and review measures [the North Atlantic Treaty Organization] can take to contribute to stabilizing this very dangerous situation. Finally, the international community needs to establish a truly independent and neutral peace-keeping force in South Ossetia.

However, the U.N. Security Council called an emergency meeting last night, so McCain’s a little behind the ball. This could also put him at odds with the Russian leadership, particularly former President Vladimir Putin. But with President George W. Bush out of the country at the Olympics, and Sen. Barack Obama headed to Hawaii for vacation, McCain sought to take advantage of a moment in which he has the spotlight somewhat to himself.

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