The White House is increasing pressure on Russia to stop the escalating conflict in Georgia's breakaway province of South Ossetia. VOA's Paula Wolfson reports from Beijing, where U.S. President George Bush is speaking out on the crisis while attending the summer Olympic games.
President Bush says Russia has gone too far, and must agree to mediate its differences with neighboring Georgia.
In an interview here with America's NBC television network, the president says he was firm during a face-to-face conversation Friday at the Olympics with Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.
"I said this violence is unacceptable," said Mr. Bush. "I not only said it to Vladimir Putin, I said it to the president of the country, Dmitri Medvedev."
The conversation with Mr. Putin occurred just hours after Georgia sent troops into South Ossetia, and Russia responded with force.
Since then, Georgia has pulled back its military units and called for negotiations. But there has been no response from Moscow, which has been bombing areas outside the perimeters of the breakaway Georgian province.
Mr. Bush told NBC something has to be done to end the bloodshed. And he made clear he has told Prime Minister Putin and President Medvedev the next step is up to Moscow
"I expressed my grave concern about the disproportionate response of Russia, and that we strongly condemn bombing outside of South Ossetia," he said.
Meanwhile, the White House is using even stronger language in describing a conversation between Vice President Dick Cheney and Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili.
A spokeswoman says Cheney stressed U.S. solidarity with Georgia - perhaps its closest ally among the former Soviet Republics.
She says the vice-president told President Saakashvili that Russian aggression can not go unanswered. And she says Cheney repeated the warning given earlier by other administration officials - that Russia risks serious damage to its relationship with the United States.