Russia Gets Backing in Congress

WASHINGTON — A U.S. congressman is siding with Russia in its invasion of and brief war with Georgia, putting himself at odds with the U.S. administration and other lawmakers.

"The Russians were right; we're wrong," Republican Representative Dana Rohrabacher said last week at a hearing of the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee. "The Georgians started it; the Russians ended it."

Rohrabacher claimed that unidentified intelligence sources had assured him that Georgia started the fighting Aug. 8.

"The Georgians broke the truce, not the Russians, and no amount of talk of provocation and all this other stuff can alter that fact," said Rohrabacher, who is known for taking contrarian stands on foreign affairs and other issues and has clashed with the administration of President George W. Bush in the past.

His comments got little attention in the United States but have been played prominently on state-run Russian television broadcasts and other media.

Rohrabacher, who is in his 10th two-year term, is not the only voice in Congress questioning administration policy on the conflict. At the same hearing at which Rohrabacher spoke, Democratic Representative Brad Sherman said that although plenty of reasons can be cited to be skeptical of Moscow, "Our policy can best be regarded as unthinkingly and reflexively anti-Russian, particularly at a time when we need Russia's support on a number of issues including the containment of Iran."