"I hope he intends to honor the pledge this time," Rice said during an appearance on NBC's "Meet the Press," referring to Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev announced today that Russia military forces would begin a withdrawal on Monday under an EU-brokered ceasefire agreement. "The word of the Russian president needs to be upheld by his forces. People are going to begin to wonder if Russia can be trusted. I think it's really very much time for them to do what they said they were going to do."
Rice has just returned from a trip to Georgia, and she told NBC's David Gregory that she would travel to Brussels on Tuesday to meet with NATO allies to discuss to the crisis in Central Asia.
Rice added that the "territorial integrity of Georgia must be respected, that Abkhazia and South Ossetia are within the internationally recognized boundaries of Georgia," signaling that the Bush administration will not accept continued Russian occupation of the disputed regions.
"I went to Georgia to stongly support the democratically elected governemt of Georgia, to demonstrate that the Russian strategic intent of destroying the foundation of democracy in Georgia, the Russian strategic intent of destroying Georgian infrastructure and economic progress, that that would not succeed," Rice told NBC's David Gregory.
Gregory grilled Rice on whether the Bush administration did enough to defuse a potential conflict before the Russian invasion 11 days ago, but Rice deflected the question, saying the focus needs to be a resolution of the crisis, and that Russia is chiefly to blame.
"But we need to keep the focus on the culprit here, and the culprit here was that Russia overreached, used disproportionate force against a small neighbor, and is now paying the price for that because Russia's reputation as a potential partner in international institutions - diplomatic, political, security, economic - is frankly in tatters," Rice said. "It is Russia that miscalculated, it is Russia that misjudged, and Russia is now seeing that the European Union and the United States will not tolerate the kind of behavior that they engaged in as the Soviet Union before the end of the Cold War. The Cold War is over."