U.S. candidates lash out at Russia

U.S. Presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain have singled out Russia for strong criticism during their first debate. Russia was one topic both candidates seemed to agree on, with Obama saying the next U.S. p

“It's absolutely important that we have a unified alliance, and that we explain to the Russians that you cannot be a 21st century superpower or power and act like a 20th century dictatorship,” Obama said before adding: “We have to recognise that the way they've been behaving lately demands sharp response from the international community and our allies”.

McCain lashed out at Russia for its actions in the Caucasus and pledged support for Georgia's membership of NATO.

“Russia has now become a nation fuelled by petrodollars, that is basically a KGB apparatchik run government. I looked into Putin’s eyes and I saw three letters – K, G, B. The aggression in Georgia is not acceptable behaviour,” he stated, adding, though, “I don’t believe we’ll go back to the cold war, I am sure that will not happen”.

Senator Obama, for his part, was no more complimentary in Russia’s regard.

“We have to recognise that the way they’ve been behaving lately demands sharp response from the international community and our allies,” he said but added the relations with Russia should be built on a different platform, “You do not deal with Russia based on staring in the eyes and seeing his soul but you deal with Russia based on what the security interests of the United States of America are”.

Still both candidates reiterated they do see Russia as a partner and want its co-operation on issues such as nuclear non-proliferation, specifically in monitoring the Iranian nuclear programme.

Analysts doubt, though, that it will be possible for the U.S. to sit on two chairs criticising Russia and demanding its co-operation at the same time. They warn that one of the two should be given priority.

The worldwide financial turmoil was also an issue the candidates could not avoid. Obama openly criticised the Bush administration, blaming it for the current financial turmoil that affected not only the United States but the whole world.