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‘Ready to strike Russia’

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin left open the option of waging war with Russia if it were to invade neighboring Georgia and if the former Soviet republic were a NATO member.

world Updated: Sep 12, 2008 23:46 IST

Alaska Governor Sarah Palin left open the option of waging war with Russia if it were to invade neighboring Georgia and if the former Soviet republic were a NATO member, and used her first televised interview since becoming the Republican vice presidential candidate to reassure Americans that she was up to the responsibility.

Palin — who was little known before she was chosen by John McCain to be his running mate — said she would favour including Georgia and Ukraine in NATO, despite warnings by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin that his country would not tolerate meddling in former Soviet republics.

The interview was conducted on the same day that McCain and Democratic rival Barack Obama set aside their difference to honour those killed in the September 11, 2001, attacks

Asked whether the United States would have to go to war with Russia if it invaded Georgia, and the country was part of NATO, Palin, who has been criticised by Democrats for what they say is her lack of experience especially in foreign affairs, said: “Perhaps so.”

“I mean, that is the agreement when you are a NATO ally, is if another country is attacked, you’re going to be expected to be called upon and help,” she said in the interview with ABC News.

“What I think is that smaller democratic countries that are invaded by a larger power is something for us to be vigilant against ... We have got to show the support, in this case, for Georgia,” Palin said, when pressed on the subject.

“It doesn’t have to lead to war and it doesn’t have to lead, as I said, to a Cold War, but economic sanctions, diplomatic pressure, again, counting on our allies to help us do that in this mission of keeping our eye on Russia and Putin and some of his desire to control and to control much more than smaller democratic countries,” she added.

Palin comments on Russia came the same day Putin insisted his country has no intention of encroaching on the sovereignty of Georgia, following a war that left Russian troops in firm control of two breakaway regions. Putin also aggressively defended the decision to send troops to Georgia, saying Russia had to act after Georgia attacked South Ossetia last month.

Makes us proud: Palin tells son

Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin said farewell on Thursday to 4,000 US troops heading to Iraq, including her 20-year-old son, and assured them that victory was in sight.

Palin urged the troops to “make us proud” and that they should allow their loved ones to shed a few tears at their departure. “We can’t help it, we’re going to miss you,” she said at a deployment ceremony at Fort Wainwright, a US Army base near Fairbanks.

The troops based here are known as America’s Arctic Warriors.

Track Palin, the oldest of Palin’s five children, is leaving in the next week or so for Iraq as part of the 4,000-soldier 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team. His brigade will be on a 12-month deployment there.