Rice Says Russia's on Road To Isolation and Irrelevance

WASHINGTON — In scathing criticism of Moscow, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice warned Russia Thursday that its policies have put it on a path to isolation and irrelevance.

Rice called on the West to stand up to Russian aggression following its invasion of Georgia last month. The State Department released excerpts of the speech to be delivered Thursday.

"The attack on Georgia has crystallized the course that Russia's leaders are taking — and brought us to a critical moment for Russia and the world," she said.

The speech for a German Marshall Fund event reflected an escalation of rhetoric in a relationship that has deteriorated markedly since last month's war and Moscow's recognition of two breakaway regions of Georgia.

Rice mocked Russia for its international isolation and attempt to project its influence by cultivating foes like Cuba and Venezuela.

Rice noted that Nicaragua and Hamas are the only entities that have recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

"A pat on the back from Daniel Ortega and Hamas is hardly a diplomatic triumph," Rice said, referring to the president of Nicaragua, a long-time foe of the United States.

She also mocked Russia's recent military exercises with Venezuela, suggesting that Russia's armed forces have still not recovered from their decline as the Soviet Union collapsed.

"We are confident that our ties with our neighbors, who long for better education, better health care, better jobs, and better housing, will in no way be diminished by a few, aging Blackjack bombers, visiting one of Latin America's few autocracies" she said.