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Russia risks relations with US, warns Gates
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US Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates warned Thursday that Russia risks hurting its relationship with the United States "for years to come" if it does not scale back its action against Georgia.

"If Russia does not step back from its aggressive posture and actions in Georgia, the US-Russian relationship could be adversely affected for years to come," Gates told reporters at the Pentagon.

However, he ruled out "any prospect for the use of military force by the United States in this situation."

"The United States spent 45 years working very hard to avoid a military confrontation with Russia," Gates said. "I see no reason to change that approach today."

Nevertheless, he noted that the Pentagon will reevaluate "the entire gamut of our military-to-military activities with Russia" and confirmed that two joint training exercises had already been canceled.

"Starting last fall, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and I began what we hoped would be an ongoing and long-term strategic dialogue with the Russian Federation. The expectation was that our two nations, despite our differences, shared areas of common interest where we could work together as real partners," Gates added.

"Russia's behavior over the past week has called into question the entire premise of that dialogue and has profound implications for our security relationship going forward, both bilaterally and with NATO."

Gates also touched upon the military-led US humanitarian mission in Georgia and stressed that the United States expects Russia not to interfere with the effort to bring aid to the country.

(Xinhua News Agency August 15, 2008)

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