Canada's Harper Condemns Russian Military Offensive in Georgia
"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.