(ERIE, PA.) - John McCain called for steps to counteract Russia's military strikes against the country of Georgia today, saying "Russian aggression against Georgia is both a matter of urgent moral and strategic importance to the United States of America."
Calling for immediate action within NATO and the United Nations Security Council, McCain said the United States should immediately step in to provide economic and humanitarian aide to Georgia, whose troops and civilians were attacked by the Russian military late last week.
"The Secretary of State [Condoleezza Rice] should begin high-level diplomacy, including visiting Europe, to establish a common Euro-Atlantic position aimed at ending the war and supporting the independence of Georgia," said McCain.
"With the same aim, the U.S. should coordinate with our partners in Germany, France, and Britain, to seek an emergency meeting of the G-7 foreign ministers to discuss the current crisis."
McCain added that Russia's bombing of a civilian airport in the Georgian capital of Tblisi yesterday "appears aimed not at restoring any status quo ante in South Ossetia, but rather at toppling the democratically elected government of Georgia."
He said, "This should be unacceptable to all the democratic countries of the world, and should draw us together in universal condemnation of Russian aggression."
"Russian President [Dmitry] Medvedev and Prime Minister [Vladimir] Putin must understand the severe, long-term negative consequences that their government's actions will have for Russia's relationship with the U.S. and Europe."
President Bush last night told NBC that he had spoken with Putin at the Olympic Games in Beijing, and told him he found their actions unacceptable. McCain relayed a similar message directly to the leaders of Russia this morning.
"Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin must understand the severe, long-term negative consequences that their government's actions will have for Russia's relationship with the U.S. and Europe," said McCain.
The Arizona senator also said it is his belief that Russia is not only threatening Georgia's independence, but trying to intimidate neighboring countries, such as the Ukraine. He also called for protection of the Baku-Tblisi-Ceyhan oil pipeline that runs through Georgoa.
"Our united purpose should be to persuade the Russian government to cease its attacks, withdraw its troops, and enter into negotiations with Georgia," said McCain.
"We must remind Russia's leaders that the benefits they enjoy from being part of the civilized world require their respect for the values, stability and peace of that world."