WASHINGTON- Today, Congressman Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL) and Senator Benjamin L. Cardin (D-MD), Co-Chairmen of the Commission on Security and Cooperation in Europe (U.S. Helsinki Commission), expressed deep concern over the Russian Federation’s decision to strengthen ties with Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. According to a decree issued earlier this week by Russian President Vladimir Putin, Moscow intends to deepen its ties in such areas as trade, agriculture, education, and diplomacy, while not extending full diplomatic recognition.
“Moscow’s latest move clearly undermines Georgia’s sovereignty,” said Chairman Hastings. “Although Moscow claims to still recognize Georgia’s sovereignty, such actions raise serious doubts about these facile declarations. I urge Moscow to disavow its decision and cease its bullying behavior in the Caucasus.”
Co-Chairman Cardin noted, “I am extremely troubled by Moscow’s decision to strengthen ties in Abkhazia and South Ossetia. This move is clearly intended to punish Georgia for its desire to join NATO. Whatever one may think of that prospect, I can certainly understand Georgia’s desire to deepen its relations with the West, especially if its neighbor to the north is determined to further exacerbate an already tense situation.”
The Foreign Minister of Georgia has called Russia’s policy one of “creeping annexation,” and announced his government will seek a special session of the United Nations to deal with the issue.