US Throws Its Weight Behind Georgia Regime

US Vice President Dick Cheney visited Tbilisi on Thursday to confer with Georgia’s ruler, just a day after the United States boosted aid for the beleaguered Georgian regime.

The US Vice President’s visit is aimed at demonstrating US backing for what Washington views as ‘strategic countries’ in the region as relations with Moscow have plummeted to a post-Cold War low, and Washington seeks to form new energy alliances to offset Russia’s oil and gas supplies to Western Europe.

The trip marked the highest level visit by a US official to Georgia since that country undertook a reckless offensive against the breakaway region of South Ossetia, which Russia has since recognized as an independent state.

After conferring privately with Saakashvili, whom Moscow branded as ‘a political corpse’, the US Vice President headed to observe US aid operations in Georgia, a day after promising that Washington had a "deep and abiding" interest in the region’s security.

Cheney’s tour also highlighted Washington’s announcement of a one billion dollar aid package for its reckless ally in the Caucasus, an infusion that US officials claimed would be limited to humanitarian aid only. The new package of aid, which requires additional approval from Congress, significantly expands assistance to a country that has become ardently pro-American in recent years, but it will predictably come at the cost of the worst relations between Washington and Moscow since the end of the Cold War. Excluding Iraq, the infusion would make Georgia one of the largest beneficiaries of American foreign aid after Israel and Egypt. The United States has provided about 2 billion dollars over all in the 17 years since Georgia became independent following the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, appearing in Washington, said that 570 million dollars of the aid would be made available this year, while the rest would depend on approval by a new administration and a new Congress. She and other administration officials said the aid package does not specifically include any military assistance. But that stipulation apparently has escaped the Georgian regime.

Just weeks after Georgia’s military collapse in panic in the face of the Russian Army, its leaders, according to the New York Times, are seeking to "rebuild and train its armed forces as if another war with Russia is almost inevitable." So far US administration officials have avoided publicly discussing efforts how best to help the Georgian regime to rebuild its military. In any case, considering the thrashing the Georgian military have received at the hands of the Russian Army, its rebuilding will take years, which means that long-term decisions about American support to Georgia will fall to the next presidential administration.

[Source: By Yuri Reshetnikov, The Voice of Russia, Moscow, 04sep08]

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The Question of South Ossetia
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