Gates rules out military force, but warns Russia to back off

-File photo

US Defence Secretary Robert Gates on Thursday ruled out US military force in Georgia but warned Russia of damage to its relations with Washington if it does not pull back its forces.
Russia’s behaviour in Georgia, battered in a five day old Russian offensive, had “profound implications for our security relationship going forward, not only bilaterally but with Nato,” Gates said.
“If Russia does not step back from its aggressive posture and actions in Georgia, the US-Russian relationship could be adversely affected for years to come,” he said at a Pentagon news conference.
But Gates also made clear that the United States has no intention of being drawn into the conflict militarily, and that the consequences Russia faces will be in its broader relations with the United States and the world.
“I don’t see any prospect for the use of military force by the United States in this situation,” Gates said.
“The United States spent 45 years working very hard to avoid a military confrontation with Russia. I see no reason to change that approach today,” he said.

Copyright AFP (Agence France-Presse), 2008