U.S. Ambassador to Georgia Kelly Degnan has said while Washington is willing to negotiate with Moscow to prevent conflict and de-escalate, “we cannot, and will not, trade away European security, sovereignty, or freedom.”
In a video address of January 11, coming amid U.S.-Russia security talks, Ambassador Degnan stressed “Russia does not get a veto over your sovereign decisions.”
She pledged Washington’s unwavering support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and the 2008 NATO Bucharest Summit Declaration that Georgia and Ukraine will eventually become Allied members – the decision Moscow seeks NATO to disavow.
Dismissing Moscow’s pretentions on these “security guarantees” as unacceptable, Ambassador Degnan said: “They are an attempt to discard thirty years of post-Cold War peace, stability, and progress and try to re-create Soviet domination and control over its neighbors.”
The U.S. diplomat noted that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s goal is to stop Georgia and other countries from “acting as fully sovereign, independent nations that have the right to choose their own security partners.”
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Asserting that the Kremlin “twists the truth and distorts history trying to confuse and divide people,” the U.S. envoy highlighted that “Russia is the country that destroyed the Republic of Georgia in 1921, desecrated Georgian Orthodox Churches and tried to smother the Georgian language.”
“Georgians fought for your country and your freedom against Russia so they could choose your own future as a strong democracy, a choice the U.S. is very proud to support,” the diplomat asserted.
She underscored the importance of high-level diplomacy in light of Russia’s insistence that it should be “allowed to establish an exclusive sphere of influence throughout Eastern Europe and the Caucasus.”
In her remarks, the Ambassador stressed that the U.S. will not “negotiate about Georgia without Georgia” and that Washington will coordinate with Tbilisi amid the security talks.
She said the U.S. has worked closely with the Georgian Government, NATO Allies, and other partners for this week’s meetings – U.S.-Russia bilateral talks, the NATO-Russia Council and OSCE Permanent Council.
While “the Kremlin has nothing to offer its neighbors but fear, oppression and disinformation,” the U.S. continues to believe in “a Europe whole, free and at peace,” noted Ambassador Kelly Degnan.
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NB: The article was updated on January 12.