Cheney’s Real Mission in Georgia and Ukraine

US Vice President Dick Cheney met with Ukraine's squabbling leaders in Kiev on Friday, as he continued his tour to show US support for American new-found allies in the region following the conflict in the Caucasus last month.

Dick Cheney met separately with both Ukraine’s President Viktor Yushchenko and Prime Minister Yulia Timoshenko, whose political feuding has intensified in recent weeks over ties with Russia in the wake of Moscow’s confrontation with Georgia and the West.

Both Georgia and Ukraine have applied to join the NATO alliance and the European Union, which some in the West perceive as a snub to Moscow and Russia itself seeing as western encroachment on its legitimate part of regional and political influence.

Cheney, who billed his visit as being intended to show US support for its allies in the post Soviet region, predictably urged the Ukrainian leaders to patch up their shattered government coalition, which seems to be headed toward complete collapse. Yushchenko who appears to have exhausted public support for his rule, this week accused his opponents in parliament and in the government of a coup attempt and threatened early parliamentary elections after the Prime Minister’s party sought accommodation with opposition deputies to pass laws curtailing presidential powers.

Earlier, on a brief visit to Georgia, Cheney delivered a strong rebuke to Moscow calling its rebuff of Georgia’s aggression of South Ossetia "an illegitimate, unilateral attempt" to redraw the country’s borders and promised ongoing US support for Georgia’s efforts to join NATO which would implicitly help Tbilisi reclaim its forfeited regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Russia has recognized those two former Georgian entities as independent states following Georgia’s reckless move to recapture them last month and US support for Tbilisi’s NATO ambitions is almost certain to pin Washington and its western allies in direct confrontation with Moscow.

The US Vice President’s trip to Georgia, which included a highly symbolic visit to American troops unloading humanitarian supplies, was accompanied by a 1 billion dollar aid package for Georgia, announced in Washington earlier this week, ostensibly for the purpose of rebuilding Georgia’s shattered economy and infrastructure. In Moscow this move was seen as the first step in rebuilding Georgia’s military, as the Georgian regime itself has implied. Cheney’s itinerary alone has raised legitimate concerns in Russia. The fact that the most hawkish member of the Bush administration has been sent to Azerbaijan, Georgia and Ukraine is seen in Moscow as evidence of an ongoing US scheme to encircle and isolate Russia. Still, it is clear that the current pattern of US deployments and commitments elsewhere in the world make it implausible for the US to assume the additional onus of becoming the military protector of countries such as Georgia and Ukraine.

[Source: By Yuri Reshetnikov, The Voice of Russia, Moscow, 05Sep08]

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