Canada's Harper Condemns Russian Military Offensive in Georgia

17:43, 12 August 2008
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"Russia has ceased to act as a peacekeeper..."

Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper condemned Russia`s military offensive in Georgia and called on the country to return its troops to positions held before the conflict.

``In escalating the conflict through its attacks on Georgian towns and cities outside South Ossetia, Russia has ceased to act as a peacekeeper,`` Harper said in an e-mailed statement.

Russia sent tanks, troops and warplanes into Georgia on Aug. 8 in what it said was a response to a Georgian offensive on South Ossetia, which won de facto independence from Georgia after a war in the early 1990s. Russia had peacekeeping forces in the breakaway province.

Russian forces crossed into Georgia`s heartland for the first time yesterday and took several towns and a military base, drawing criticism from U.S. President George W. Bush.

``It is imperative that Russia respects the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia,`` Harper said.


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