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Georgian ambassador worries that Russia may try to block NATO bid

Georgian ambassador worries that Russia may try to block NATO bid

Worried about Russia's intentions, Georgia is an eager candidate for eventual NATO membership and worries that Moscow may try to block the former Soviet republic's bid, Georgia's ambassador says.
"Russia should not be allowed a de facto veto," Ambassador Vasil Sikharulidze said Tuesday in an interview. "A third party should not be allowed to intervene."
He spoke to a reporter as tensions between Russia and his country continued to mount, with Russia suspending road, rail, air, maritime and postal links to Georgia.
Sikharulidze said he believes Georgia will be able to surmount any difficulties posed by the sanctions. He seemed more concerned about a possible Russian effort to annex sections of the Georgian regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia that Moscow now controls.
The United States has been Georgia's closest ally since President Mikhail Saakashvili took office almost three years ago. But, Sikharulidze said, he wishes Washington "would back up more strongly" Georgia's aspirations to join NATO.
As for the current dustup with Moscow, the ambassador said the main U.S. objective has been to de-escalate tensions.
State Department spokesman Tom Casey urged the two countries Tuesday to resolve their differences, and he suggested that Russian actions were aggravating the conflict.
"Certainly we don't think that the imposition of additional sanctions is helpful to that process," he said.
For his part, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov accused the West of encouraging Saakashvili in what he called "absolutely, consistently anti-Russian actions." He criticized the United States for blocking adoption of a Russian-proposed U.N. Security Council statement expressing grave concern at Georgia's actions.
Sikharulidze said he welcomed the encouragement of the Baltic states and members of the now-defunct Warsaw Pact for the support they have shown toward his tiny country in its row with Russia.
"They understand our problems very well," he said.
Most of the entrants into NATO over the past eight years formerly were under the Soviet umbrella.
The envoy, a former deputy defense minister, made clear his view that Georgian membership in NATO cannot come quickly enough.
Georgia will not be among the next batch of countries invited to join NATO, but Sikharulidze said he hopes Georgia's candidacy will get a boost at the NATO summit meeting in Latvia next month.
"We would love to have some encouragement for our plans to join," he said.


Updated : 2021-04-10 22:49 GMT+08:00