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The West’s support against Russian aggression provides an opportunity

By M. Alkhazashvili
(Translated by Diana Dundua)
Tuesday, April 29
The international community has spoken strongly and unequivocally against Russia’s steps toward undermining Georgian sovereignty.

The Georgian government is taking this opportunity to again push for replacing Russian peacekeepers in the conflict zones with a neutral force.

It has been glaringly obvious for years that Russia cannot act as a mediator in the conflict, and perhaps never more so than this weekend, when two senior Russian officials suggested Georgian force in Abkhazia would be fully met by Russian military might.

What legitimate place can Russian ‘peacekeepers’ now have in Abkhazia?

Those comments came shortly after an April 23 UN Security Council meeting on Moscow’s action in breakaway Abkhazia, where Russia has recently deepened ties with the separatist regime and shot down an unmanned Georgian spy plane. As expected, the council session produced no definitive public statements, an outcome spun by veto-bearing Russia as a diplomatic failure for Georgia.

But that smug claim of success was smothered by a subsequent statement from the US, UK, Germany and France, three of which are on the Security Council and all of which count themselves ‘friends of Georgia.’

The four urged Russia to “revoke or not…implement” its decision to bind tighter breakaway South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

That same day, the US State Department said it was “deeply concerned” about the Russian downing of a Georgian plane over Abkhazia: “Such incidents escalate tensions…and risk destabilizing the entire Caucasus.”

This strong Western support lends credence to the president’s jubilant statement that everybody has seen Russia is not neutral.

Indeed, it could hardly be more clear. Tbilisi is choosing the right time to push a replacement of the Russian peacekeepers.