Russia says U.S. fanning Georgia aggression

MOSCOW Fri Sep 5, 2008 11:50am BST

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney (R) and Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili (L) listen to explanations as they check the delivery of humanitarian aid at Tbilisi airport, September 4, 2008. REUTERS/Irakli Gedenidze/Pool

U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney (R) and Georgia's President Mikheil Saakashvili (L) listen to explanations as they check the delivery of humanitarian aid at Tbilisi airport, September 4, 2008.

Credit: Reuters/Irakli Gedenidze/Pool

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia said on Friday that U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney was encouraging Georgian aggression by supporting Tbilisi's bid to join the NATO military alliance.

Cheney told Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili on Thursday that the United States was fully committed to Georgia's bid to join NATO.

"The new promises to Tbilisi relating to the speedy membership of NATO simply strengthen the Saakashvili regime's dangerous feeling of impunity and encourages its dangerous ambitions," Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko told reporters.

Nesterenko said the arrival in a Georgian port of the USS Mount Whitney, a sophisticated command warship, may breach a 1936 convention on naval activity in the Black Sea, but he ruled out any military action by Russian forces over its presence.

"Should the convention be violated, then the issue should probably be considered by the United Nations or other international organisations because we are talking about violations of a well-known international agreement," he said.

"We are not talking about any possibility of military actions," Nesterenko said.

The Mount Whitney dropped anchor off Georgia's Black Sea port of Poti on Friday with more than 17 tonnes of aid, including blankets, juice, powdered milk and hygiene products, the U.S. Navy said in a statement.

(Reporting by Conor Sweeney, writing by Guy Faulconbridge, editing by Elizabeth Piper)

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