Georgia relies on Obama to restrict Russia’s ‘misbehavior’

Georgia relies on Obama to restrict Russia’s ‘misbehavior’

6 Mar, 06:19 PM

Georgia's national security adviser said U.S. President Barack Obama must make clear to Russia that Moscow would pay a "huge political price" for any new "misbehavior" in former Soviet states, AFP reports.

Obama must "deliver the message, in that sense, that (the) U.S. stands firm in not accepting any further adventures of Russia outside of its borders in the neighborhood," Eka Tkeshelashvili said Wednesday.

"Russia has to have an understanding that there will be a huge political price that Russia will be paying if anything happens in any wrong way in Georgia," she said.

Tkeshelashvili said Georgia is not worried that Washington's support for it as a "democratic, strong, independent" state is in any danger from Obama's review of strained U.S.-Russia relations in a bid to make a fresh start.

"It's an attempt to find the ways in which some common interest can be found," she said. "Russia should not have an expectation there will be an unconditional green light for any misbehavior."

Washington strongly backed Georgia during Georgia's conflict in August with Russia. The U.S. also condemned Moscow's decision to recognize the independence of the breakaway Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Fighting largely ended with a European Union-brokered ceasefire, but Russia has left behind thousands of military personnel in the two rebel regions, provoking international criticism and a freeze in high-level ties between the North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Russia.

Domestic political pressure might lead Russia to consider renewing a military push in its much smaller neighbor, Tkeshelashvili said.

"The fact that Russia keeps that as an open option is quite obvious," she said.

"Judging from the facts, from what Russia's military presence is on the ground, the situation is deteriorating in Russia, so that I wouldn't exclude definitely that at some point (Russian Prime Minister Vladimir) Putin could take a decision to do something," she said.

Putin might seek "to deliver some victory on (the) international front, in front of his own public because the situation in Russia is so bad that he might see that his power might be shaking a bit there," said Tkeshelashvili.

Moscow has "totally ignored" the international ceasefire with Georgia and has kept nearly as many ground forces standing by as it had at the height of the fighting, she said.

"It's not something that calms us down," she said.

Obama's warning to Moscow must be absolutely clear because "weak language is not really understood by Russians, usually," she said.

Tags: Georgia, Obama