Speaking about the Georgian crisis in her in her first major interview since becoming Senator John McCain's running mate, the governor of Alaska said: "We've got to keep an eye on Russia. For Russia to have exerted such pressure in terms of invading a smaller democratic country, unprovoked, is unacceptable."
Russia launched a five-day military operation to "force Georgia to accept peace" after Georgian troops attacked breakaway South Ossetia on August 8, killing a number of Russian peacekeepers and hundreds of civilians. Most residents of South Ossetia have Russian citizenship. On August 26, Moscow recognized both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another breakaway Georgian province, as independent states.
Palin told interviewer Charles Gibson of ABC News that Georgia should be granted membership of NATO. When pressed on whether this would mean that the U.S. would be obliged to defend Georgia if Russian troops went into the country again, she replied, "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."
"What I think is that smaller democratic countries that are invaded by a larger power is something for us to be vigilant against," Palin added. "We have got to show the support, in this case, for Georgia."
She also called for NATO membership to be granted to Ukraine, another former Soviet republic.
Palin's comments came on the same day that Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said that Moscow had no desire to encroach upon the sovereignty of its neighbors.
"We have no desire or reason to encroach on the sovereignty of former Soviet republics," Putin said at a Valdai Discussion Club meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
"We have no imperial ambitions," he said.
At a summit in Bucharest in April, NATO members decided to postpone offering Georgia and Ukraine the chance to join the NATO Membership Action Plan, a key step toward full membership, but promised to review the decision in December.
U.S. presidential elections are scheduled for November 4. Current opinion polls show McCain and Palin even or slightly ahead of Democratic candidate Senator Barack Obama and his running mate, Senator Joe Biden.
The conservative "hockey mom" Palin has reinvigorated McCain's campaign, with crowds flocking to see her at pre-election rallies.