Russia responds to Clinton's remarks by accusing Washington of "fueling" Tbilisi
By Ernest Petrosyan
Friday, June 8
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s visit and “loud supportive statements” for Georgia have prompted a reaction from the Kremlin. The Russian Foreign Ministry released a statement saying that Clinton's remarks on the occupation of Georgia's breakaway regions fuel the “revanchist aspirations of Tbilisi”.
The statement goes on to say that Clinton’s remarks showed that Washington has failed to learn lessons from the August 2008 war.
“It was active inspiration from the US and other Western states, commitments about accepting Georgia into NATO and a massive supply of armament from abroad, that formed a sense of all-permissiveness and impunity for Mikheil Saakashvili, which pushed him to [engage in a] criminal adventure in South Ossetia,” the statement read, asserting that “at the time we had to bring the aggressor to his senses".
“There is a sense of deja vu today,” the statement continues. “High-level US officials are again making loud statements about supporting Saakashvili, repeating verbatim the false theses of his propaganda about the Russian occupation of Georgia.”
The Ministry concludes by accusing Washington of "not fully realiz[ing] the extent of its responsibility”.
Secretary of State Clinton, while visiting Georgia, reiterated US support for Georgia’s NATO aspirations while condemning the Russian occupation. “We reject Russia’s occupation and militarization of Georgia’s territories and call on Russia to fulfill its obligations under the 2008 cease-fire agreement, including withdrawal of its forces to pre-conflict positions and free access for humanitarian assistance,” Clinton said in Batumi.
A day later, State Department Deputy Spokesperson Mark Toner commented on the Russian Foreign Ministry's statement. “We reiterated our core commitments to the Georgian people, to the Government of Georgia, to its sovereignty. There is no surprise that this is an area of major disagreement between us and Russia,” he said.
Toner noted that there are areas in which the US and Russia can constructively cooperate, “but there are areas or 'redlines', as the Vice President has said in the past, such as Georgia. But we’re not going to back away from in our position”. He added that the Secretary had a very a successful visit to Georgia.
Shota Malashkhia, Chair of the Temporary Commission on Territorial Integrity Issues, said that Georgia nonetheless continues its integration into NATO and strengthens its defense systems. “Not only Clinton, but all Democratic officials made supportive statements," he told The Messenger.
Malashkhia responded to the Russian government's accusation that Washington "fueled" Georgia in the 2008 war by saying, "Russian troops 'fueled' Georgia... by conducting ethnic cleansing and occupying Georgian territory; what more could fuel us?”.
He also noted that the Russian leadership must realize that the Soviet period is long over and they no longer have that influence.