NATO pulls its punches on penalty against Russia

BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) - August 19, 2008 - NATO has suspended formal contacts as punishment for the Georgia invasion but is resisting U.S. pressure for more severe penalties.

The Russian Ambassador to NATO played down the impact of the emergency meeting of the Western alliance, saying: "The mountain gave birth to a mouse."

The allies say they will not convene any more meetings of the NATO-Russia Council until Russian troops withdraw from Georgia. But they bowed to concerns from Europe -- which depends heavily on Russia for energy -- and stopped short of adopting specific long-term steps to punish Moscow.

In a small victory for the United States, NATO foreign ministers did agree to create a commission to oversee Georgia's bid to join the alliance and begin providing military training to its army.

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