WASHINGTON – The Senate added its voice to that of President Bush (search) in urging Russia to withdraw its troops from the former Soviet state of Georgia.
In a resolution introduced by the Senate's Republican and Democratic leaders, the Senate expressed support for the end of Russian military presence in Georgia. The resolution was approved by voice vote late Thursday.
"More than a decade after obtaining its independence, Georgia has not been able to rid itself of the Russian military presence," said Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist, R-Tenn., sponsor of the measure with Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
"Russia has failed to fulfill its commitments," Frist said, noting that more than 3,000 Russian troops are still stationed in Georgia. "It is time for these forces to leave."
Bush raised concerns about Russian bases in Georgia during talks in Moscow before traveling to Georgia earlier this week.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (search), who accompanied the president to Georgia, also told a Senate hearing Thursday that the United States is pushing Russia to end its military presence in Georgia as quickly as possible.
Georgia and Russia have been sparring over the timetable for withdrawal. Tbilisi wants the troops out with two years, if not earlier, while Moscow insists it needs at least four years, if not more than a decade to complete the job.
Russian experts said Moscow is motivated by fears its military presence in Armenia — its closed ally in the strategic Caucasus region — could be at risk if it pulls out of Georgia.
Russia does not border Armenia and uses Georgian territory to move troops and equipment to its military base there.