TBILISI: The US Has Abandoned Georgia – Analyst

Ernest Petrosyan

The Messenger
May 18 2010

"Obama’s Administration may sell out Georgia and Moldova in exchange
for nuclear cooperation with Russia," says Senior Transatlantic Fellow
of the German Marshall Fund and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of
State for European and Eurasian Affairs David Kramer in an article
published in The Washington Post on May 15.

Kramer writes that the Administration seems to have moved towards
taking a "Russia only" approach, neglecting and even abandoning other
countries in the region. He says that the most glaring example of this
came this week, when President Obama, in a message accompanying the
White House’s resubmission to Congress of a nuclear cooperation pact
with Russia, declared that the situation in Georgia "need no longer
be considered an obstacle to proceeding" with Congressional review
of the agreement.

Kramer emphasises that the Bush administration signed this "123"
agreement in May 2008, but withdrew it from Congressional consideration
four months later, knowing it would be rejected in the aftermath of
Russia’s invasion of Georgia that August. "Russian forces continue
to occupy separatist parts of Georgia in Abkhazia and South Ossetia
in blatant violation of the ceasefire agreement between the two
countries and are constructing bases in both regions, which Moscow
has recognised as independent states. The situation remains tense
and could easily explode again," says Kramer.

According to the analyst Obama’s statement that the existing situation
in Georgia is no longer considered an obstacle means that the United
States has abandoned Georgia, and stating so baldly that the situation
is no longer an obstacle to advancing Russian-American relations
means that the administration is essentially giving Russia a green
light to continue to engage in provocative behaviour along its borders.

Kramer acknowledges that Obama and US state officials repeatedly state
that they do not recognise a Russian "sphere of influence," but points
out that actions, or non-actions, speak louder than words. He thinks
that through its neglect of countries in the region other than Russia
the administration is ceding to Moscow exactly such a sphere.

"By some counts Obama has spoken and met with his "friend and partner"
President Dmitry Medvedev more times than with any other leader,
including on Thursday. He should use those occasions to lay down
clear markers that Russian aggression toward, and occupation of, its
neighbours are unacceptable. He also should start making "friends and
partners" elsewhere in the region. Some of these leaders aren’t the
easiest to get along with, nor are they poster children for democracy
and human rights – but then again, neither are Medvedev and Russian
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin," – Kramer says.

Georgian political analyst Mamuka Areshidze, however, thinks that
it is not certain that the US will sell out Georgia for the sake of
US-Russian nuclear cooperation. "US-Russian nuclear cooperation is not
restricted to the reduction of the nuclear arsenals of both countries,
and involves addressing the Iran issue as well. On the other hand,
the recent compromises made by Iran concerning its nuclear programme,
and the firm position of Yerevan on Armenian-Turkish relations,
make it seem that the US might compromise its position on "change"
in the South Caucasus for Iran. However this process is constantly in
flux, and Biden’s visit is a sign that the US is not going to simply
compromise Georgia away," told Areshidze to The Messenger.