On February 25, the United States Air Force General, Tod D. Wolters, who currently serves as the NATO Supreme Allied Commander Europe (SACEUR) and Commander of the U.S. European Command (USEUCOM), spoke, among others, about the Russian occupation of Georgia in his testimony to the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services.
In his statement, the U.S. General said that “the Kremlin exerts influence over countries in the South Caucasus through manipulation of regional tensions and enduring military conflicts with all instruments of national power.”
Russia maintains leverage over Georgia through its occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, including its attempts to alter the administrative boundary lines of occupied territories, interfere with the transit of people and goods within Georgia’s sovereign territory, and complicate Georgia’s NATO membership aspirations,” his statement reads.
According to General Wolters, Russia “employs a below-the-threshold of armed conflict strategy via proxies and intermediary forces in an attempt to weaken, divide, and intimidate” the U.S. allies and partners “using a range of covert, difficult-to-attribute, and malign actions.”
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Speaking about Georgia as “a steadfast partner and contributor to global security,” the U.S. top military official said the country is the largest non-NATO contributor to the Resolute Support Mission in Afghanistan, and that its commitment of 870 soldiers in support of the U.S. operations “demonstrates the enduring strength” of the U.S.-Georgia strategic partnership.
General Wolters said “USEUCOM assists Georgian forces in preparing for this mission through the Georgia Deployment Program,” adding that the U.S. continues to support Georgian sovereignty and territorial integrity by improving its capability “to generate and sustain capable defense forces through the Georgia Defense Readiness Program.”
In his statement the U.S. General also noted that USEUCOM’s “strong military-to-military relationships” with defense counterparts across Europe, including Georgia, “signal continued U.S. commitment and are foundational to these national ties.”