Bloomberg: Russia isn’t helping international efforts to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions and has reneged on promises in Georgia, U.S. Senator John McCain said after a foreign policy speech in Brussels.
By Cary O’Reilly
March 21 (Bloomberg) — Russia isn’t helping international efforts to rein in Iran’s nuclear ambitions and has reneged on promises in Georgia, U.S. Senator John McCain said after a foreign policy speech in Brussels.
“I think the Russians can help,” McCain told reporters today at the Brussels Forum meeting of leaders from North America and Europe in Belgium. “I have not seen any Russian actions to help” in Iran. “I have seen no sign” Iran has backed off its nuclear ambitions, he said.
McCain spoke ahead of a scheduled meeting between Russian President Dmitri Medvedev and U.S. President Barack Obama in London on April 1. Obama is seeking Kremlin support for his policies, including on Afghanistan and Iran. U.S. Vice President Joe Biden said in February it was time to “reset” relations with Russia after they were frayed by the insistence of George W. Bush to deploy an eastern European missile defense system during his presidency.
McCain criticized other recent Russian foreign policy actions, saying he does “take exception” to a failure by leaders in Moscow to adhere to a November peace agreement with Georgia, brokered by French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
“I still hope we can publicly commit to democracy in Georgia and Ukraine,” McCain said. “We want freedom and democracy for every nation of the world.”
McCain said he doesn’t think Russia meets the democracy requirements to qualify as a member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and that he would be “reluctant” to endorse its membership. He rejected Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov’s suggestion that NATO should be replaced by the 56-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.
The Arizona Republican senator, who lost to Obama in the November U.S. presidential election, said while Russia and the U.S. have disagreements, he doesn’t believe either country is seeking to reignite the Cold War.
“I see friction,” McCain said. “We have issues between ourselves and the Russians. I don’t see that these issues can’t be resolved over time.”
In his speech, McCain said NATO must win the war in Afghanistan and he encouraged alliance member nations to be more transparent in discussing with the public the cost and likely duration of the conflict before victory is achieved.
“We can and must win the war in Afghanistan, but will fail without a new strategy,” he said. “I’m concerned about calls in some quarters, both in the U.S and Europe, to adopt a minimalist approach to Afghanistan.”
“The political lure of such a reductionist approach is obvious, but it’s also dangerously and fundamentally wrong,” McCain said.
The Brussels Forum is an annual meeting of American and European political and corporate leaders to discuss economic, security and other foreign policy issues.