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U.S. – Georgia relations enters a new phase

By Vladimer Napetvaridze
Thursday, August 3
The 31st of July appeared to be interesting and unusual for residents of regional Georgian towns - Kutaisi, Zestaponi, Khashuri, Gori and Senaki. When the 2nd Cavalry Regiment, participant of NATO military drill Noble Partner 2017, moving from the Poti Port to the Vaziani training area stopped in these towns to meet the locals to show them some of the vehicles and equipment. The largescale military exercise that is taking place in Georgia until August 12 is believed to be one of the signs of deepening U.S.A-Georgia relationships.

Noble Partner 2017 is a multinational military training, which is being held on the territory of Georgia for the third time, the motto of this study is: "Strength through Partnership." For the first time, it took place in 2015, and back then only Georgian and American soldiers participated. Although, The Noble Partner was launched before Trump’s Administration came to power in U.S., it shall be assumed that the new administration of the United States is using The Noble Partner 2017 project today to send clear messages to Russia. The Noble Partner 2017 is much larger and more representative than previous two military drills. If in 2015, it was initially presented only by the Georgian- American soldiers, today there are over 2000 soldiers of eight countries involved. This year, unlike previous years, the American military made a special march, visited the military bases and cities which were occupied by the Russian troops in 2008. With this march, support of the U.S.A. towards Georgia was underlined. In addition to the political significance of the march, its influence on the attitudes of local civilians should be considered. The residents indicated that seeing American soldiers and vehicles in their cities, gave them hope that they are not alone against Russia.

It is not just a coincidence that at the beginning of the above-mentioned exercise, the Vice President of the U.S.A. - Mike Pence visited Tbilisi. With this fact, the U.S.A. sent another message to Russia about Georgia’s importance as a strategic partner. "The presence of the Vice-president here is definitely showing that this is not just about military exercises, but is sending a clear message that we are together," said President Margvelashvili. Pence visited Tbilisi within the framework of the 3-nation European tour of NATO allies. Before Georgia, he visited Estonia and met with leaders of the Baltic states. In Tallinn, he made a statement supporting the Baltic countries, Georgia and Montenegro: "Our message to the Baltic states — my message when we visit Georgia and Montenegro— will be the same: to our allies here in Eastern Europe, we are with you."

One more breakthrough in the U.S.A.-Georgian relations this week was signing an agreement regarding Anaklia port. Based on the agreement, the American company SSA Marine becomes the terminal operator and investor of the port. The agreement was signed by Mamuka Khazaradze, founder of Anaklia Development Consortium, Robert Waters, Vice President of American Company and Prime Minister of Georgia, Giorgi Kvirikashvili.

The new administration of the United States started to support Georgia few months ago when President Donald Trump signed a legislative act, which recognizes Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region - as territories occupied by Russia.

In July, the US Senate received a bill which condemns the actions of Russia against European countries, including Georgia and implies a new sanction. This bill will be soon signed by President Trump.

It is clear that Trump administration favours a strict policy against Russia. And, it seems the confrontation between Russia and the U.S.A. about the Eastern Europe enters a new phase. The messages conveyed by U.S. high-ranking officials reveal clear disappointment with how Russia prefers to handle disputes and sovereignty of other states. “America is ready to have good relationships with Russia, but Russia’s behavior shows different will,” said Vice President Mike Pence at a press conference in Tbilisi on August 1.

This week was distinguished with one more breakthrough between Georgia and the United States in a number of aspects:
• Political aspect – The Vice President Mike Pence visited Tbilisi reaffirming U.S. government’s support to Georgia's territorial integrity;
• Military aspect – Largescale NATO military exercises Noble Partner 2017 was launched in Georgia;
• Economic aspect – SSA Marine became the investor of Anaklia port;
• Social Aspect– the U.S. soldiers made a march in Georgian cities to demonstrate their support to the locals.