Sunday

20th Jan 2019

Palin says war with Russia could be NATO option

US Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin has backed Georgia's NATO membership in a television interview, while leaving open the option of war with Russia if it were to attack a NATO ally.

In an interview with ABC News, Ms Palin was asked whether the United States would have to go to war with Russia if it invaded Georgia, and the country was part of NATO, Ms Palin said: "Perhaps so."

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  • Republican vice-presidential candiate Sarah Palin has outlined her hawkish views on Russia and the Caucasus (Photo: Republican National Convention and Reflections Photography)

"I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally - if another country is attacked, you're going to be expected to be called upon and help," she explained in her first television interview since becoming Republican John McCain's running mate two weeks ago.

Ms Palin, currently governor of Alaska, said she supported NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia - a move Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin strongly opposes. It was America's responsibility to be "vigilant" against a larger power invading smaller democracies, she said, while stressing: "We will not repeat a Cold War."

NATO-Georgia Commission on Monday

Georgia is currently a NATO partner, but was not granted a Membership Action Plan (MAP) - as official membership candidate status is termed - at this year's NATO summit in Bucharest.

However, following the Russian invasion, NATO decided on 19 August to establish a new NATO-Georgia Commission, which will inaugurate its work in Tbilisi on Monday with NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer and ambassadors from the 26 Alliance's member states.

"We won't supply arms to the Georgians, but we will help them develop their own military potential," NATO spokesperson James Appathurai said, Gazeta Wyborcza reports, adding that the ambassadors will fly there using a Polish government plane.

Russian threats against Europe

Prime Minister Vladimir Putin warned on Thursday (11 September) in Sochi that tensions between Russia and the EU may well worsen if the planned US missile defense shield is deployed in Poland, threatening yet once more to point Russian missiles at European targets.

On the same day, foreign minister Sergei Lavrov met his Polish counterpart in Warsaw, saying that "Poland is not a threat to Russia, but we can't ignore the fact it's an integral part of the US strategic system."

Mr Putin fiercely defended Russia's invasion of Georgia, accusing the West of "anti-Russian hysteria" and saying that if this military operation had not been carried out, it would have been like Russia "getting a bloody nose and hanging its head down."

Russia wanted a constructive relationship with the European Union, but only if the new "realities" were taken into account, he said.

Mr Putin accused the Bush administration of "not doing anything about stopping the conflict," a feeling he got when speaking to the US president at the Olympic Games in China and which prompted him to send tanks into Georgia.

In Beijing, he had already raised the question of Russia recognising Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent territories with the Chinese government, and told them Russia did not expect Chinese support, which suggests Moscow was already planning to recognise the two enclaves, the BBC reports.

Putin also made clear that Russia could easily have occupied the Georgian capital and toppled its president, Mikhail Saakashvili, despite earlier claims of the Russian army being close to the Georgian capital as an exaggeration in the Western media.

"Our forces were 15 kilometres from Tbilisi. It would have taken four hours to capture Tbilisi. We didn't have that goal," he said.

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