The major candidates for president on Friday called on Russia and Georgia to end their military action and appealed for more diplomatic efforts aimed at avoiding a full-scale war.
Republican John McCain said Russia should withdraw its forces. Democrat Barack Obama condemned the violence and urged the two sides to show restraint, AP reported.
Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has long pledged to take back control of South Ossetia, which battled Georgia for de facto independence in fighting that ended in 1992. On Friday, Moscow sent tanks into the region when Georgia launched a major military offensive to retake the breakaway province.
Campaigning in Iowa, McCain told reporters that the U.S. should convene an emergency session of the U.N. Security Council to resolve the crisis.
"What's most critical now is to avoid further confrontation between Russian and Georgian military forces," McCain said.
The U.S. should work with the European Union to put diplomatic pressure on Russia and help establish an independent peacekeeping force in South Ossetia, McCain said.
Obama, speaking to reporters during a flight to Hawaii for a vacation, said he's getting regular updates on the violence. He said it's important for the United States to work with international partners to end the conflict.
"I wholeheartedly condemn the violation of Georgia's sovereignty. I think it is important at this point for all sides to show restraint and to stop this arms conflict. Georgia's territorial integrity needs to be preserved and now is the time for direct talks," he said during a refueling stop in Sacramento, Calif.