KANSAS CITY, Missouri (Reuters) - Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama said on Tuesday Russia should be further isolated because of its decision to recognize two rebel regions of Georgia as independent states.
Defying pressure from the West, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said he had signed decrees recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
“I condemn Russia’s decision to recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states and call upon all countries of the world not to accord any legitimacy to this action,” Obama said.
In his written statement that marked a toughening of his rhetoric toward Russia, Obama also said the United States should call for an immediate meeting of the U.N. Security Council to condemn Moscow’s decision in coordination with European allies.
“The U.S. should lead within the U.N. and other international forums to cast a clear and unrelenting light on the decision, and to further isolate Russia internationally because of its actions,” he said.
Although Russia is one of the five permanent members of the Security Council, it could not stop closed-door consultations among the members. It could, however, use its position to block the council from issuing a statement or resolution critical of Russian actions in Georgia.
Georgia and Russia fought a brief war over the breakaway region of South Ossetia earlier this month after Georgia sent in troops to try to retake the province by force.
Russian stock prices fell on Medvedev’s announcement amid fears of an increase in international tensions.
Obama, an Illinois senator, said Russia’s refusal to recognize Georgia’s territorial sovereignty called into question its commitment to international organizations such as the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and would make it impossible for the U.S. Congress to enact a civil nuclear agreement with Russia.
“If Russia’s government continues to violate the norms and practices of the international community, the United States and our allies must review all aspects of relations with Russia,” Obama said.
Obama’s rival in the November 4 U.S. presidential election, Republican John McCain, has urged the ousting of Russia from the Group of Eight club of rich countries.
Reporting by Caren Bohan, editing by David Alexander and Vicki Allen