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Rice: Russia becoming isolated, irrelevant

  • Story Highlights
  • U.S. secretary of state decries Russia's foreign, energy policies
  • Georgian invasion achieves "no strategic objective," Condoleezza Rice says
  • Russia risks bid to join international organizations, Rice says
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From Elise Labott
CNN State Department Producer
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WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Russia's policies are putting it on a path to isolation and irrelevance, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday.

Rice also said that Moscow's other behavior, including using oil and gas as a weapon, threatening countries with nuclear attack, selling arms to rogue states and political persecution of journalists and dissidents, paints a picture of "a Russia increasingly authoritarian at home and aggressive abroad."

Her comments came in a speech on the state of relations between Washington and Moscow.

While the United States has taken issue with Russia's behavior for some time, Rice called its invasion of Georgia last month a "critical moment for Russia and the world."

She warned that Moscow's international standing following the Georgia conflict is at a post-Cold War low.

"Russia's invasion of Georgia has achieved -- and will achieve -- no strategic objective," Rice said. "Russia's leaders will not accomplish their primary war aim of removing Georgia's government. And our strategic goal now is to make it clear to Russia's leaders that their choices are putting Russia on a one-way path to self-imposed isolation and international irrelevance."

The United States and Europe will stand up to Russia and not allow it to bully or threaten its neighbors, she said.

While the international community has pledged to help rebuild Georgia and provide massive international aid, Rice said Russia has precious little international support.

Noting that Russia's recognition of independence for the Georgia breakaway region of South Ossetia has only been matched by Nicaragua and Hamas, she retorted, "A pat on the back from Daniel Ortega and Hamas is hardly a diplomatic triumph. "

Warning about the consequences of Russia's actions, Rice said the United States has more options than during the Cold War "when U.S. foreign policy was hostage" to the standoff with the Soviet Union.

Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development is at risk, Rice said, and the country's civil nuclear cooperation with the United States is "not going anywhere now."

As Russian economic markets continue to take a tumble, Rice warned, Russia needs to be part of the world political and economic community to realize the forward-looking vision laid out by President Dmitry Medvedev when he took office.

"If Russia ever wants to be more than just an energy supplier, its leaders have to recognize a hard truth: Russia depends on the world for its success, and it cannot change that," she said.

She also took a jab at Russia's recent overtures to Cuba and bomber exercises with Venezuela.

The U.S. agenda to help democracies in the Western Hemisphere prosper "will in no way be diminished by a few, aging Blackjack bombers, visiting one of Latin America's few autocracies, which are themselves being left behind by an increasingly peaceful, prosperous and democratic hemisphere."

Rice's aides have heavily promoted her speech, inviting Russia experts and journalists to the State Department on Wednesday to preview the remarks.

On Wednesday, Rice called Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to let him know she was planning to deliver the speech, her spokesman Sean McCormack said.

The speech also was to be translated into Russian, French and German, McCormack said.

In her remarks, Rice said the United States will continue to welcome students, political reformers, journalists and other professionals as well as try to help Russia in areas such as the fight against HIV/AIDS.

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"And we will continue to support all Russians who want a future of liberty for their great nation," she said.

At a CNN panel discussion Tuesday, former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger, Colin Powell and James Baker warned the Bush administration against rupturing its relationship with Russia over the Georgia conflict, saying that the United States needed Moscow's cooperation on major national security issues.

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