Speaker says Russia's WTO entry hinges on Georgia

By DONNA CASSATA | October 25, 2011 | 4:15 PM EDT

House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio, speaks with reporters following a Republican strategy session on Capitol Hill in Washington, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011. Rep. Wally Herger, R-Calif. is at left. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON (AP) — House Speaker John Boehner says the border dispute between Russia and ex-Soviet state Georgia must be settled before the question of Russia's bid to join the World Trade Organization is even considered.

In a far-reaching speech on U.S.-Russia relations Tuesday, the Ohio Republican said there were "alarming reports" of the Obama administration pressuring Georgia to accept Russian boundaries set after their 2008 war.

In August 2008, Georgian troops tried unsuccessfully to regain control over the Moscow-backed rebel province of South Ossetia (oh-SET'-yuh). Russia sent troops that routed the Georgian military in five days. Georgia entirely lost control of both South Ossetia and another separatist region, Abkhazia (ab-KAH'-zhee-uh).

Boehner says the administration must resolve the Russia-Georgia stalemate and respect Georgian territory.

New trade relations with Russia would need congressional approval.