Page last updated at 14:09 GMT, Tuesday, 12 August 2008 15:09 UK

Cameron: Curb Russian aggression

Russian soldier
Russia says it has ended military operations in Georgia

Conservative leader David Cameron has strongly criticised Russia for its military action in Georgia.

He told a news conference that Britain and the West should be doing more to prevent Russian aggression.

"If you leave aggression to go unchecked you only store up graver problems for the future," the Tory leader warned.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has ordered an end to military operations against Georgia, the Kremlin says.

He told officials he had taken the decision to end the campaign after restoring security for civilians and peacekeepers in the disputed region of South Ossetia.


However, Russia has been highly critical of Georgia's leadership, and there were no signs of imminent talks.

Before the announcement, there were fresh reports of Russian warplanes bombing the Georgian town of Gori.

This is a dangerous doctrine with worrying echoes from the darkest chapters of European history
David Cameron
Conservative leader

Mr Cameron has urged the international community to stand up to what he has described as Russia's "bullying" of a smaller country.

"Russia has used massive and disproportionate force against an independent and sovereign democracy," he said.

"This is completely unacceptable under international law and we and our allies must not beat around the bush in condemning Russia very clearly.

"It looks increasingly as if Russia intends to topple the elected government of Georgia and to try and cripple that country.

"Russia is sending a clear message to the countries of the former Soviet Union that you only enjoy limited sovereignty and you cannot behave in ways Moscow disapproves of."

'No justification'

Speaking at his summer press conference in Westminster, Mr Cameron added: "Today Russia says it is fighting in defence of Russian citizens in South Ossetia - who will it be defending tomorrow? Russians in the Ukraine? Russians in the Baltic states? Russians in Central Asia?

"This is a dangerous doctrine with worrying echoes from the darkest chapters of European history."

He called on Prime Minister Gordon Brown to step up diplomatic pressure on Russia over its actions.

And he revealed he had spoken to Republican Presidential candidate John McCain and the Polish prime minister about the issue.

He suggested a debate on the crisis at the UN General Assembly, suspension of UK visas for some Russian nationals and possible suspension of Russian membership of G8.

'Damaged' reputation

He also urged a clear timetable for Georgian membership of NATO.

Edward Davey, the Lib Dem foreign affairs spokesman, welcomed reports that Russia had ordered an end to its military operations, but called on the EU and others to "show tough resolve in helping to negotiate a lasting peace".

"Russia must be made to realise that its actions have seriously damaged its reputation," he said.

"As part of the rehabilitation of the region, any future peacekeeping force in Abkhazia and South Ossetia must be independent and not based on Russian forces."

On Monday, Gordon Brown said there was "no justification" for Russia's military action in Georgia.


He said the intervention "threatens the stability of the entire region and risks a humanitarian catastrophe".

"There is a clear responsibility on the Russian government to bring this conflict quickly to an end," he said.

Mr Brown has held discussions with France's President Nicolas Sarkozy and UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon in recent days.

Foreign Secretary David Miliband has also held talks with G7 and EU foreign ministers.

Amnesty International has called on Georgia and Russia to provide safe passage to people fleeing from the conflict and allow unimpeded access to humanitarian relief to those in affected areas.

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