McCain colleague: Russia must be checked

SATURDAY, AUG. 23, 2008

WASHINGTON – Sen. Lindsey Graham said Friday that his visit to Georgia, Ukraine and Poland, at Sen. John McCain’s behest, convinced him that the United States and its allies must take tough steps to prevent further Russian military aggression against its smaller neighbors.

Graham, a South Carolina Republican, called on NATO to “stop war-gaming on tables in Brussels” and to begin military exercises in Europe to show its commitment to protecting member nations.

“I found a Russia on the move, a Russia that is trying to intimidate its neighbors who are Democratic in nature,” Graham said. “This (Georgia) conflict is not about a border dispute. It’s about the desire by Russia to send a signal to its democratic neighbors that Russia is a dominant power.”

Poland is a NATO member, and the United States backs Georgia’s effort to join the trans-Atlantic organization.

Graham was joined on the trip by Sen. Joseph Lieberman, I-Conn.

Diplomats and analysts say there’s little the West can do – short of going to war with Russia – to check its military muscle-flexing in the Caucasus.

Graham, though, said the United States and its allies should accelerate Georgia’s bid to join NATO, reconsider Russia’s membership in the G-8 group of advanced industrialized nations and freeze Moscow’s campaign to enter the World Trade Organization.


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