Saturday, August 9, 2008

CNN: Russia's Response "far disproportionate" to Georgia's alleged attack.

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Russia's use of strategic bombers and ballistic missiles against Georgia's civilians outside of the South Ossetian conflict is "far disproportionate" to Georgia's alleged attack on Russian peacekeepers, a senior U.S. official said Saturday.

The official was not authorized to speak on the record due to the sensitive nature of the diplomacy.

Russia's use of its potent air weaponry signals a "severe" and "dangerous escalation in the crisis," the official said.

"For the life of me, I can't image that being a proportionate response to the charge that Georgia has attacked Russian peacekeepers," the official said. "It's hard for us to understand what Russia's plan is here."

The official said Russia is probably trying to destabilize Georgia politically to kill its chances of joining NATO.

Georgia wants to join NATO, but Russia opposes the move, concerned that the alliance's eastward march will erode its influence. NATO rejected Georgia's membership bid in April despite strong lobbying from U.S. President Bush, though the alliance promised that Georgia could join at a later date. Watch President Bush comment on conflict »

Still, Georgia bears some of the blame for the fighting over South Ossetia, the official said. Recently, the United States has had "very blunt exchanges with" Georgia, telling its leaders that they have no chance of winning a war with Russia and that they should stick to a path of diplomacy.

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