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McCain Calls For Reevaluating Russian Ties

Republican presidential candidate John McCain said Wednesday that Russia's invasion of Georgia calls for a complete reexamination of U.S. relations with the Moscow government.

Speaking to reporters in Michigan, McCain said he was pleased that the United States has canceled a planned joint military operation with Russia. But he added, "we will now need to review the full range of our relations" with that country.

McCain said there should be heightened security arrangements for Ukraine, the Baltic states and Poland. But he offered no specifics, and ruled out military action against Russia or a return to the cold war.

Like Georgia, Ukraine and the Baltic nations were republics in the Soviet Union, which Russia dominated. Poland was among the eastern European nations essentially under Soviet control but not part of the U.S.S.R.

At every stop during this week's campaigning in Pennsylvania and Michigan, McCain has sharply criticized Russia's attacks on Georgia, which is trying to keep the pro-Moscow province of South Ossetia from breaking away.

McCain said he supported President Bush's call for Russia to withdraw from Georgia and for his canceling the planned joint military maneuvers. Without directly criticizing the president, however, McCain made it clear he has long seen Vladimir Putin as far more dangerous than has Mr. Bush, who once said he looked into Putin's soul and saw someone he could trust.

McCain said his regard of Putin, the former Russian president and now powerful prime minister, "has been very clear for a long time. I've been very concerned about Russian behavior in a broad variety of areas."

They include, he said, "forcibly removing corporations that are doing business in Russia," Moscow's cutting of oil deliveries to the Czech Republic, and "the brutality in Chechnya."

"There's a long list that I have objected to," he said.

Because of Russia's aggression in Georgia, McCain said, NATO should "address the future of the alliance's relationship with Russia. And with our G7 partners, we should discuss whether it makes sense for Russia to continue its participation in the G8."

The two groups include the world's major economic powers.

"We also need to review Russia's aspiration for membership in the World Trade Organization," he said.

But McCain indicated that the allied nations' leverage against Russia is quite limited.

He said he wants new discussions with Russia. However, he said, "I don't think we're going to re-ignite the cold war here with Russia. I don't see this is a return to nuclear standoffs."

McCain stood next to Connecticut Sen. Joseph Lieberman, an "independent Democrat," but declined to be drawn into Lieberman's recent rebuke of Democrat Barack Obama regarding the Russian-Georgia conflict.

Campaigning with McCain Tuesday in Pennsylvania, Lieberman referred to Georgia and said U.S. voters must choose "between one candidate, John McCain, who's had experience, been tested in war and tried in peace, and another candidate who has not."

Obama's condemnations of Russia have been less heated than McCain's.

Asked if Lieberman was trying to politicize the conflict, McCain on Wednesday said now is not the time "for partisan sniping."

McCain also was flanked by his wife, Cindy, whose right arm was in a sling, her hand heavily bandaged. Earlier in the day "a very enthusiastic supporter" had shaken her hand, Cindy McCain told reporters, and caused what she described as a minor sprain. (Read more on Cindy McCain's injury)