August 11th, 2008
05:30 PM ET
14 years ago

Obama moves closer to McCain on Russia stance

[cnn-photo-caption image= caption="The conflict between Russia and Georgia is making waves on the presidential campaign trail."] (CNN) - Barack Obama moved closer to John McCain’s tough position regarding the military conflict in Georgia on Monday, issuing a statement from Hawaii scolding Russia for the intensifying violence in the conflict.

“No matter how this conflict started, Russia has escalated it well beyond the dispute over South Ossetia and invaded another country,” Obama said in a statement distributed by his campaign. “Russia has escalated its military campaign through strategic bombing and the movement of its ground forces into the heart of Georgia. There is no possible justification for these attacks.”

The comments marked a departure from Obama’s initial statement on the conflict, released Friday, which avoided chiding Russia directly and urged restraint from both nations. He released a sterner statement the following day condemning Russian aggression.

Today, he focused his criticism squarely on the Kremlin, a posture first taken by McCain four days ago, as the conflict began.

Obama urged Russia to agree to a cease-fire and withdraw all troops from Georgian territory, and called for a non-Russian international peacekeeping force, along with a U.N. resolution rejecting Moscow’s actions – all demands put forth by McCain last week.

Still, the Democrat’s statement featured a note of optimism about Russian-U.S. relations: “Let me be clear: we seek a future of cooperative engagement with the Russian government, and friendship with the Russian people,” Obama said in the statement.

“We want Russia to play its rightful role as a great nation - but with that role comes the responsibility to act as a force for progress in this new century, not regression to the conflicts of the past.”

Meanwhile, on the campaign trail in Pennsylvania, McCain amplified his rhetoric against Russia in a Monday morning statement to reporters.

“Russian President Medvedev and Prime Minister Putin must understand the severe, long-term negative consequences that their government’s actions will have for Russia’s relationship with the U.S. and Europe,” McCain said.

Filed under: Candidate Barack Obama • John McCain
soundoff (96 Responses)
  1. Robert

    Russia gobbles up Georgian ground while NATO and the Security Council debate. The UN is toothless and the U.S. has prior engagements. I guess we're going to witness the second coming of a Soviet Union.

    August 11, 2008 07:29 pm at 7:29 pm |
  2. bibek

    Obama moves closer to McCain on Russia Stance?

    So if CNN talks about some news after MSNBC coveres it first, does that count as CNN moving closer to MSNBC's stance?

    Obama '08- The smarter choice!

    August 11, 2008 07:30 pm at 7:30 pm |
  3. Peachy Keen

    Frankly, I'm a little curious how anyone in this country thinks we can be critical of Russia invading another country. What the heck do they think we did in 2003? Invaded and destroyed another country and overthrew their goverment. That is the same thing Russia is doing in Georgia. Kind of like the pot calling the kettle black.

    August 11, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  4. Joe Reg

    Here comes

    WW III not a moment too soon.

    August 11, 2008 07:31 pm at 7:31 pm |
  5. AT

    OBAMA shows restrain and quite judgement. He take his time and don't rush into any issues. McCain or Bush does not have ANY CREDIBILITY nor does the US to tell RUSSIA anything. The US went into IRAQ against Russia and most of the world advise. The US supported the breakaway of KOSOSVO and aided it in a hit against Russia. The Russians should cripple Georgia because they know the US is secretly training the military there to eventually run proxy wars against Russia. Russia, to use George bush use Preemptive Force against Georgia, what is McCain gonna do, attack Russia? He has no clout, and more WARs mean McCain will never be elected President. He McCain and Black fabricated the issue with the Government in GA, Black is a lobbyist for the country, only thing is the US and NATO can only balk and they have NO BITE. The Russians are awesome

    August 11, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  6. Walter, Long Beach

    I support Obama, but he has to grow a spine.

    Every time he delivers some wishy-washy statement, he highlights the qualities of his that make centrists uncomfortable.

    August 11, 2008 07:35 pm at 7:35 pm |
  7. jimmy

    Who is better to be Commander in Chief of our great country in these troubled times of economic problems and wars and the resurgent
    Russian Militarism and aggressiveness.. Russia is still a Dictatorship not unlike the old Communist Soviet Union . A great many people of the old regime still are in the current Russian government and military.
    WE need a NEW Presiident with the expecirence and judgement of
    John McCain, a war hero and a no nonsence leader . Unfortunately
    Barack Obama has no experience in Foreign Policy and National Economic problems. He was a State legislator until just 4 years ago.

    August 11, 2008 07:36 pm at 7:36 pm |
  8. caywen

    Obama strikes me as a "measure twice, cut once" type of guy. McCain strikes me as a "shoot your mouth off before you think" type of guy.

    BTW, if anyone bothered to read Obama's previous statements on this situation, and bothered to compare his statement to the statements of other world leaders and the White House, you'd see that his reaction is entirely appropriate and is the right one. McCain's reaction to this scares the living daylights out of me.

    With McCain's hawkishness on this matter, if he were president, I'm imagining new mushroom clouds and unspeakable human cost.

    August 11, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  9. John, Brooklyn, New York


    Please stop playing "gotcha" journalism. Obama called for a cease fire days ago and then subsequently toughened his position when it was clear that Russia was launching a wholesale invasion.

    This had nothing to do with "leaning more toward McCain's position". It had to do with carefully observing the rapidly-changing circumstances and taking measured and thoughtful steps in response to these events.

    Frankly, I'd actually feel more comfortable with a president like Obama who's first inclination is NOT to go rushing in to situations with diplomatic guns blazing (unlike McCain's 100-year occupation position on Iraq or his "bomb-bomb-bomb-Iraq" gaffe) but rather, with careful consideration of the implications of potentially putting Americans and our country in harm's way.

    August 11, 2008 07:38 pm at 7:38 pm |
  10. Neutral

    Obambi, remember you've said REPUBLICANS ARE IGNORANT. You better step up to the plate and show us what you've got. Page your 350 foreign advisors, ask them what you must say so you won't be shooting your foot again!

    August 11, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  11. JB

    Obama will do a fine job with foreign policy and national security decisions and appointments within his cabinet.

    McCain kinda scares me, he is not bright enough to make these decisions. He would be worse than GW Bush.

    August 11, 2008 07:39 pm at 7:39 pm |
  12. JB

    Obama Envy is LARGE today. (hehehe)

    August 11, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  13. pa

    obama dont know
    so he sides with mccain
    what else is new
    he isnt to smart

    August 11, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  14. Lisa

    Americans does not want any part of Russia!

    August 11, 2008 07:42 pm at 7:42 pm |
  15. Geri

    Isn't he supposed to be on vacation and spending all those wonderful hours with his kids??? He's probably trying to write a speech(or have his speech writers do it) for Michelle to give on the 1st night of the convention so she won't offend anyone or say tthe wrong thing. We all know this is for show...we already know how she feels. He doesn't have a clue as to how to run a country...can't even wear the pants in his own family. Wonder how many skeletons he has in his closet???

    August 11, 2008 07:43 pm at 7:43 pm |
  16. Deb, Allentown, PA

    OMG, you anti-Obama people are incredible. You're wrong on so many levels.

    #1) He's on vacation.

    #2) If he had been any stronger up front, the cries of "he's presumptuous; he's not the President, just a candidate" would have been front and center.

    #3) He's become stronger with his criticism as the situation has deteriorated. Do you want him to immediately come out, guns afiring, ready to beat the crap out of Russia? Or would you rather we take a more diplomatic approach? And who exactly is going to beat the crap out of Russia? All the excess troops we have available? Oh wait, we don't have any because they're already stretched too thin.

    August 11, 2008 07:44 pm at 7:44 pm |
  17. tim, mississippi

    skip CNN's neo-con propaganda, and

    google and/or go youtube!

    CNN, you're so pathetic, LOL.

    August 11, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  18. Linda K.

    Obama's approach is still less confrontational than McCain's.

    I grew up during the Cold War and I remember the feeling that World War III could be just around the corner. With the fall of the USSR I breathed a sigh of relief. One thing I learned very early is that it's not a good idea to provoke Russia. We need a leader with a measured approach.

    Does anyone remember the Cuban Missile Crisis? If the current GOP had been in power, this country would still be a nuclear wasteland.

    August 11, 2008 07:49 pm at 7:49 pm |
  19. California Gold

    I hope McCain doesn't refer to the President of Georgia as the Governor of the State of Georgia. McCain is so easily confused he would send troops to bomb Atlanta and order the Navy to barricade Savannah. Doofus.

    August 11, 2008 07:50 pm at 7:50 pm |
  20. American en canada

    My dear fellow americans Obama is ready to be our commander chief
    as he is more diplkomatic not like these wormongers republicans that all they want to do is atack atack and atack/

    Joihn Mcwar is not fit to be our president he does not think properly or straight he is scary.

    August 11, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  21. Griff

    To Olivia of Georgia... Wake Up Girl! Stop being the Idiot you are... This is not a game of Cludo. You have so little minds. You have seen further then the next Ginnel... There is a Piece of Dirt, we call our Planet... Nowhere else! You cannot jump Ship...

    August 11, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |
  22. Len in Washington

    TO: "WOW"
    I believe McCain made a SPEECH as well....didn't he?

    Anyone who believes that McCain came up with a Seven Point Plan that fast needs to have their head examined.

    He can't even READ his Seven Point Plan! GIVE ME A BREAK!!!!

    I'll take a "Thinker" over a "Blowhard Warmonger"any day.


    August 11, 2008 07:51 pm at 7:51 pm |



    August 11, 2008 07:52 pm at 7:52 pm |
  24. Peter (CA)

    McCain called for UN troops. Russia is a permanent member of the Security Council so what was the point?

    A measured response is best and now that we see that Russia is not stopping, yes, it looks like McCain was correct. He gets the point on this one but I think Obama has been right more often on foreign affairs in the last 6 months.

    August 11, 2008 07:53 pm at 7:53 pm |
  25. Tennisguypitt

    Georgia started this conflict, we just won't admit it because Georgia is a "democracy" and a strong ally. Russia retaliated, and while they might have taken it too far, they kind of have a right to fight back.

    Yes, Barack may have Flip-Flopped a little (maybe a little too much), and yes, McCain was hypocritical (very much so). But they are both wrong with this. They are both using public opinion to improve their image. Even though I am an Obama supporter, I don't agree with him here.

    You can't blame Obama for being an empty suit here. Bush (and McCain) lay down empty threats on Russia, but he won't actually attack them, because they have nukes and are very powerful. All you people calling him an empty suit, you're being hypocritical as well.

    We should try to end it. But we can't blame Russia for this, Georgia isn't innocent here.

    Obama '08

    August 11, 2008 07:54 pm at 7:54 pm |
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