US State Department Officials, Senators Make Supportive Statements on Georgia

The senior officials of the US State Department and senators made supportive statements towards Georgia at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on ‘The Future of U.S. Policy Towards Russia’ on Tuesday.

US Sen. Jim Risch (R-Idaho), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, convened a full committee hearing on the future of US policy towards Russia, with a witness testimony from David Hale, Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs at the US Department of State, and Christopher A. Ford, Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation at the US Department of State.

Risch stressed in his speech that “the world today is more dangerous and less free because of the Russian Federation.”

“Of course, we all know about the invasions of Georgia and Ukraine over the years, and about the poisoning of Russian people on other sovereign soil. The world today is more dangerous and less free because of the Russian Federation. As a result, the US relationship with Russia is at a low point. During the height of the Cold War, our leaders had a lifeline to ensure that neither side made a disastrous miscalculation – the famous red phone. Today, our engagements with Russia are few, and there is a growing risk of a strategic miscalculation on the seas, the ground, or in the skies.”

Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), a ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, delivered opening remarks noting that Kremlin aggression since the invasion of Georgia in 2008 is unacceptable.

“First, we must make very clear that so many examples of Kremlin aggression since the invasion of Georgia in 2008 are simply unacceptable and cannot become the norm in international affairs.

The invasion of Ukraine and illegal occupation of Crimea, the attempted assassination of regime opponents with chemical weapons on foreign soil, committing war crimes in Syria, the attack on our 2016 election. These are just some,” he said.

Christopher A. Ford discussed Russia’s troubling diplomatic campaigns, noting that formidable challenges in the current security environment are the result of Russian behavior.

“Nor have I yet mentioned Russia’s troubling diplomatic campaigns to undermine institutions of transparency and accountability in controlling weapons of mass destruction at the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and the United Nations.

“All of this would add up to a very grim picture even if Russia were not continuing its aggression and territorial seizures against Ukraine and Georgia, undertaking expeditionary warfare on behalf of the murderous regime in Damascus, and working to subvert democratic processes in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere.

“Since 2014, in response to Russian aggression in Ukraine and Georgia, the United States has dramatically increased security assistance across the region, which signifies our steadfast
commitment to collective defense under the North Atlantic Treaty and our continued support to European Allies and partners to counter Russian aggression and malign influence,” he noted.

In its immediate neighborhood, Russia seeks to dominate, as demonstrated by its ongoing aggression against Ukraine and Georgia. In Ukraine, Russia must end its belligerence and implement its Minsk agreement obligations,” David Hale noted. “We are encouraged by the positive steps Ukrainian President Zelensky has taken to resolve the Russiainstigated conflict in eastern Ukraine; thus far, we are disappointed by Moscow’s response. The December 9 Normandy format summit provides an opportunity to test Russia’s willingness to reverse its harmful behavior.

“We condemn Russia’s continued militarization of Crimea and in July 2018, the Secretary of State issued a Crimea declaration stating that the United States will never recognize Russia’s attempted annexation of the peninsula.

“The construction of the Nordstream 2 pipeline and Moscow’s unhelpful approach to trilateral gas negotiations with the EU and Ukraine give Russia a new instrument for its strategy of using energy as a political weapon,” Hale stressed.

By Ana Dumbadze 

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