The U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Georgian Deputy Prime Minister, Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani held a phone conversation on January 5, discussing the current security environment in the region and Russia’s continued aggression against Georgia and Ukraine.
The conversation took place ahead of several high-profile meetings scheduled in the beginning of January over, among others, Russia’s military build-up in and around Ukraine, including the extraordinary meeting of NATO Foreign Ministers, the meeting of the NATO-Russia Council, and U.S.-Russia security talks in Geneva.
The Deputy Secretary of State tweeted that she expressed to top Georgian diplomat “our unwavering support for Georgia’s independence, sovereignty, and territorial integrity.”
In a press note released after the phone conversation, Spokesperson for the Department of State Ned Price said Wendy Sherman had noted that the U.S. would continue to call on Russia to withdraw its troops to positions held prior to the 2008 Russo-Georgian War and comply with the 2008 ceasefire agreement.
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According to Spokesperson Price, the U.S. and Georgian diplomats further “emphasized the need to uphold the right of sovereign nations to choose their own security arrangements and support Georgia and Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of continued Russian aggression, and discussed how to enhance peace and security in Europe.”
On his part, Minister Zalkaliani noted in a tweet that the two countries “remain steadfast partners in their pursuit of peace [and] stability in region.”
According to the Georgian Foreign Ministry’s press release, during the conversation the top Georgian diplomat also underlined that Russia’s attempts to impede Georgia and Ukraine’s NATO integration contradict norms and principles of the international law.
The Minister was also cited as saying that Russia’s rhetoric aimed at restricting the sovereign state’s right to pursue an independent foreign and security policy was “completely unacceptable.”
The sides, as per the press release, highlighted Russian occupation of territories of its neighboring states and its failure to comply with the 2008 ceasefire agreement as “one of the main challenges facing European security” today.
On January 10 in Geneva, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman and Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov will lead the U.S.-Russian security talks, during which Moscow hopes to receive “security guarantees,” including NATO’s rejection of membership promise to Georgia and Ukraine.