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US Promises Consequences for Russian Actions in Georgia

The Bush administration said Thursday Russia will face consequences for what was termed its disproportionate military action in Georgia and recognition of two breakaway Georgian regions. U.S. officials meanwhile dismissed a suggestion by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that the United States pushed Georgia toward conflict. VOA's David Gollust reports from the State Department.

Officials here are vehemently rejecting an insinuation by the Russian prime minister that the Bush administration helped foment the crisis between Russia and Georgia to create an issue for the U.S. presidential election campaign.

Mr. Putin said in a CNN interview the United States had armed and trained the Georgian army and pushed it into conflict with Russia, and said he suspects the crisis was purposefully created to give an advantage for one of the U.S. candidates - who he did not identify.

The Putin remarks drew a swift response from the White House, where Press Secretary Dana Perino said the Russian leader's suggestion was patently false, and sounded irrational.

There were similar remarks from State Department Deputy Spokesman Robert Wood, who said Moscow appears to be trying to shift blame for what it did in Georgia, and what it has not done -- in failing to heed terms of the French-brokered cease-fire.

"Any charges that the U.S. instigated this conflict are ludicrous," Wood said. "What we need to focus on is what Russia's done. Russia still occupies parts of Georgia and it's in violation of its obligations under the cease-fire agreement, and we want to see Russia comply with its obligations. And charges that the United States had anything to do with instigating this conflict, I mean as I said, they're just ludicrous."

Wood said there will be consequences for Russia because of its actions in Georgia, and said the United States and key allies are in the process of reviewing relations and considering punitive actions.

He did not elaborate but White House spokeswoman Perino said shelving a landmark U.S.-Russia nuclear cooperation agreement - potentially highly lucrative for Russian firms - is one step under discussion.

Evicting Moscow from the G-8 grouping of world powers reportedly is also a possibility.

However the United States and other members of the Group of Seven industrial nations, in a statement Wednesday condemning Moscow's recognition of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, referred to Russia as a fellow G-8 member.

Officials here are stressing Russian political isolation on the recognition issue. Thus far none of Moscow's political allies has followed suit though Belarus has indicated it will follow Russia's lead at some point.

State Department Spokesman Wood noted that in a communiqué Thursday after a summit meeting in Tajikisan, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization endorsed terms of the Georgia cease-fire accord but - pointedly -- not independence for the two regions.

The Shanghai grouping includes Russia, China and four key Central Asian countries and has traditionally been supportive of Russian interests.

The G-7 Wednesday deplored what it called Moscow's excessive use of force in Georgia and said the recognition move violates Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity.