CRAWFORD, Texas — President Bush appealed to Russia's president Monday to ignore the advice of lawmakers and refrain from recognizing Georgia's breakaway regions as independent.
The move came as the White House announced Vice President Dick Cheney would visit Georgia, a blast of support for an ally reeling from its brief war with Russia.
Bush's intervention reflected the deep stakes for Georgia, which is a former Soviet republic, and the broader U.S.-Russia relationship, as the fate of separatist Abkhazia and South Ossetia remained in flux.
Both houses of the Russian Parliament voted unanimously to urge Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to recognize the two regions as independent. Medvedev did not immediately respond but has said Moscow would support the choice of the people of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
In a statement from Texas, where he is vacationing at his ranch, Bush said, "I call on Russia's leadership to meet its commitments and not recognize these separatist regions."
Western countries warned Moscow that recognizing the breakaway regions of Georgia, an allied nation pressing for NATO membership, would prompt international denunciation.
But Medvedev signaled the criticism was of little concern to the Kremlin. NATO needs Russia more than Russia needs NATO, he said, and it would be "nothing frightening" if the Western alliance were to sever all ties. NATO has suspended operations of the NATO-Russia Council over the Georgia crisis.
Cheney is heading abroad on Sept. 2 for stops in three former Soviet republics — Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine — plus Italy. "The vice president will be delivering the word of America's support," White House spokesman Tony Fratto said.
The vice president is the top-ranking U.S. official to visit Georgia since war erupted on Aug. 7. Even before those hostilities began, Cheney's trip to Italy, Georgia and Azerbaijan was in the works.
Cheney's trip is the latest in a flurry of activity in defense of Georgia, including an earlier trip by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
The White House also announced Monday that the United States is sending an interagency delegation to Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, to assess the vast reconstruction needs.
Questions remain about what actions, if any, the United States will take against Russia. The White House is reviewing its "entire relationship" with Russia, Fratto said, but focusing now on how to support Georgia's recovery.