August 28, 2008 / 8:34 AM / in 9 years

Britain says "no question" of war with Russia

LONDON (Reuters) - There is no question of launching “all-out war” against Russia, British Foreign Secretary David Miliband said on Thursday, while condemning Moscow’s “invasion” of Georgia.

<p>A Russian armoured vehicle leaves the tunnel in the territory of South Ossetia as it heads towards the Russian border, August 26, 2008. REUTERS/Sergei Karpukhin</p>

Miliband, asked whether NATO would go to war against Moscow if it were to attack a neighboring country or ally again, said: “We don’t want all-out war with Russia ... There’s no question of launching an all-out war against Russia.”

NATO is committed to the principle that an attack against one or several members would be considered an attack against all, and to defending its members against aggression. Georgia is not a NATO member but it has ambitions to join.

NATO was not an “offensive” alliance, Miliband told BBC Radio.

He said no-one ever doubted that Russia’s army would defeat a much smaller Georgian military.

“The question though for Russia is whether it wants to suffer the isolation, the loss of respect and the loss of trust that comes from that,” he added.

Miliband was speaking a day after he called in a speech in Ukraine for relations with Russia to be reviewed. He said Russian President Dmitry Medvedev had a responsibility not to start a new Cold War.

The foreign secretary denied that his words in Ukraine, whose ambitions to become a NATO member also anger Russia, had ratcheted up tensions between London and Moscow.

He said it was right to describe Moscow’s actions in the Georgian regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia as an “international crisis” that jeopardized a growing calm and stability across Europe since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

He said there was a tit-for-tat between Georgia and Russia over the breakaway regions but “the Russian response has been to invade a neighboring country.”

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