Bush poised to punish Russia for invading Georgia

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Washington, Sept.5 : U.S. President George W. Bush is reportedly ready to punish Russia for its invasion of Georgia by canceling a once-celebrated deal for civilian nuclear cooperation between the two countries.

According to The Telegraph, the White House is planning to undertake this largely symbolic move, and it is expected that action could come quickly, within days at the most.

However, officials see no need to wait until Vice President Dick Cheney returns next Wednesday from an overseas trip to three former Soviet republics.

Withdrawing the agreement from Capitol Hill would have little actual impact, as the deal very likely would not gain approval during Bush's presidency.

But taking the overt and public step of pulling it would be intended to send a message to Russia and the world that its actions in Georgia last month are not acceptable and will not go unanswered.

It would require a statement by Bush to Congress that the deal is "no longer in the national security interests" of the United States. A future president could reverse that and send the agreement back to Congress.

Signed in May by the two nations, the administration originally presented the deal as a landmark breakthrough.

There are other penalty options available.

The administration could insist that Russia continue to be quietly left out of any discussions among the elite Group of Eight nations, essentially denying Russia membership in the club of major industrialized democracies without actually kicking it out.

The United States also could sell sophisticated anti-aircraft and anti-tank military hardware to Georgia.

A one billion dollar economic recovery package for Georgia that Bush announced Wednesday - and which puts the tiny, impoverished nation in the top tier of U.S foreign aid recipients - does not include any military aid. But the U.S. had been helping the Georgian military modernize and U.S. officials have said it is likely that more military assistance will be forthcoming at some point to help the badly routed Georgian forces rebuild again.

There is also a push for including Georgia as a member of NATO.

Another move could be Washington withdrawing its support for Russia's entry into the World Trade Organization or trying to strip Russia of the right to host the 2014 Winter Olympics, now scheduled to be held in the Black Sea town of Sochi, near the border with Georgia.

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