The White House
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), representing over 20 million Americans of central and eastern European heritage, is writing to express our concern over the prospect of withdrawing large numbers of American troops from Germany. Such a move would directly weaken the security of frontline states like Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and Poland – and of the United States and the rest of NATO by extension; reduce U.S. influence in Europe; and embolden Russian President Putin to continue or increase his aggressive policies that threaten European democracy and transatlantic security.
These U.S. forces in Germany are what give operational credibility to American and NATO forces operating out of Poland and the Enhanced Forward Presence battalions in the Baltic nations. Many members of our communities have served in the U.S. armed forces, often in the European theater, and understand that Germany holds a unique position in the transatlantic alliance. Cleary, it has not yet increased its defense spending to the 2% threshold members pledged over ten years at the 2014 NATO summit in Wales. At the same time, the German government has allowed the U.S. and other allies to build bases, airfields, hospitals and communities, and host tens of thousands of servicemembers and their families, on German soil. This is an indispensable contribution to the success of NATO and the deterrence the alliance has enforced since 1949. The infrastructure and force presence established in Germany cannot be reduced or replicated elsewhere without compromising the military power they have come to represent.
NATO’s continued success depends on solidarity and strengthening the trust and relationships built among its allies over seven decades. Withdrawing U.S. forces from Germany would gravely undermine that trust and those relationships. The CEEC calls for U.S. policy and action that uphold the long history of American leadership in NATO to ensure that transatlantic security remains strong and effective. To this end, we ask that U.S. force levels in Germany remain at their current levels or higher.
The CEEC was established in 1994 and represents more than 20 million American voters whose heritage lies in this region. Its member organizations cooperate in calling attention to issues of mutual concern, especially as regards United States policy toward Central and East Europe. The CEEC regularly shares its concerns and ideas with the United States Congress and Administration.
We thank you for your consideration on this vitally important issue to U.S. national security. Please contact the undersigned at email@example.com with any questions or comments.
On behalf of the CEEC,
Karin A. Shuey
Commander, U.S. Navy (Retired)
Washington, DC Director
Estonian American National Council
Cc: Secretary of Defense
Secretary of State
Chairman and Ranking Member, Senate Armed Services Committee
Chairman and Ranking Member, House Armed Services Committee
CEEC letter to Pres on troops
August has a special meaning for Georgians. On August 7, 2008, military forces from the Russian government supporting separatists from Abkhazia and South Ossetia invaded Georgia resulting in the five-day Russo-Georgia war. Georgia suffered numerous casualties, and thousands of citizens were displaced and many still to this day. Although a cease-fire was negotiated between Georgia and the Russian government on August 12, 2008, the latter still occupies Georgia’s sovereign territory. The Russian government violates international norms in Georgia by annexing property, arbitrarily changing boundaries, destroying housing in the Tskhinvali region, and seizing farmland. It has also conducted kidnappings, arbitrary arrests, murders, harassment, and intimidation of private citizens. Georgians are historically resilient people and proud of their culture and traditions, and have earned the respect and support of the United States government. The U.S. government continues to press the Russian government to remove its troops and paramilitary forces from sovereign Georgian territory, and most recently Secretary of State Michael Pompeo reiterated U.S. support for Georgia’s sovereignty in a call with Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia. Georgia has survived many invasions of its territory dating back centuries. It will survive this most recent illegal incursion by the Russian government.
The Georgian Association in the USA stands with all Georgians in remembrance of this dark time in Georgia’s history, but one from which the county will continue on its path to a stronger democracy and economic power in eastern Europe.
The Georgian Association in the United States, Inc. is alarmed and expresses its deep concern with the rising tensions and expansion of the humanitarian crisis at the occupation line of Georgia’s Russian-controlled Tskhinvali region (South Ossetia).
On November 9, 2019, the occupation regime illegally detained Dr. Vazha Gaprindashvili, a well-known Georgian physician and president of the Georgian Association of Orthopedic Traumatologists. On November 15, 2019 he was sentenced to two months of pretrial detention. Dr. Gaprindashvili was detained while providing urgent medical help to a gravely injured local resident of the occupied Akhalgori district. The story of the patient’s condition and refusal of the Russian-controlled de facto authorities in Tskhinvali to transport the patient to Tbilisi has been widely reported. Following the arbitrary closure of the Mosabruni checkpoint by the de facto authorities in September of 2019, the local population has become totally isolated resulting in several deaths due to lack of access to adequate medical care.
The detention of Dr. Vazha Gaprindashvili while fulfilling his duty as a doctor runs counter to all internationally recognized human rights.
The Georgian Association calls on US government representatives to:
– actively support efforts of the Georgian Government and International community to achieve the prompt release of Dr. Gaprindashvili from illegal custody;
– work with all sides involved to overcome the humanitarian crisis in the occupied territories and ensure local residents’ access to qualified medical care;
The Georgian-American community and nation of Georgia are deeply grateful to late Senator John McCain for his long-standing and unconditional support for the independence, sovereignty, territorial integrity and democratic development of the Republic of Georgia. We mourn the passing of this great American, one of Georgia’s truest friends.
2018 marks two important dates for the country of Georgia. In May, all Georgians, including many Georgian-Americans, commemorated Georgia’s 100th birthday. The modern state of Georgia began its life in 1918 and survived three years (1918-1921) before falling to a Communist invasion and almost seventy years of Soviet oppression. 2018 also marks the 10-year anniversary of the Russian invasion of Georgia. On August 8, 2008, Russian forces, some 80,000 strong, swept into Georgia once more. The pretext was that Russia was responding to a Georgian attack on the separatist enclave of South Ossetia. This ignores the context of almost weekly provocations by Russia leading up to August 2008. Today, in violation of the cease-fire agreement agreed upon in 2008, Georgia remains occupied by Russian troops. They are visible from the main highway which connects East and West Georgia, and are located just 40 miles from Tbilisi, Georgia’s capital city. “Temporary” housing built to house Georgians displaced by the war are also visible from the highway. The cease-fire line continues to advance into Georgian territory, as Ossetian irregulars and their Russian backers arbitrarily shift the border further onto Georgian land. This creeping “borderization” deprives Georgian farmers of access to their lands and homes, and leads to provocations, arrests and the murder of Georgian citizens by Russian border guards.
Georgians worldwide are extraordinarily proud of the longevity of their culture and traditions. They have a unique language, are Orthodox Christians, and are dedicated to the preservation of their culture, and their historical connections to the West.
Georgia (Sakartvelo to Georgians) is an ancient land that predated the formation of Rus or Russia. Georgia has survived despite the many invasions and foreign interlopers who have sought to control the strategically placed land which Georgians inhabit. Georgia’s orientation was always westward, and it remains so today. But Georgia is occupied, Russia continues to meddle in its internal affairs, and Georgia’s Western friends are preoccupied. Georgia was the first Ukraine. There should be no concessions to Russia until it observes the conditions of the peace agreement of 2008, which Russia itself signed.
The Georgian Association in the USA believes that Western silence in the face of the ongoing Russian occupation of Georgia will encourage Russia to continue its meddling in the sovereignty of other countries. The United States Congress and European Union should all make plain their opposition to such Russian behavior, which is a threat not only to Georgia and the region, but to global peace.
Established in 1932, the Georgian Association in the USA, Inc. is the oldest non-partisan nationwide organization in the USA representing Georgian-Americans and the friends of Georgia.
The Georgian Association welcomes the incoming new administration in the United States and calls on President-elect Trump and Vice-President elect Pence to express their strong support for Georgia, and by doing so, to demonstrate the US government’s continuing support for freedom and democracy around the world. The Georgian Association calls on the incoming administration to take an active position in supporting Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, to help strengthen Georgia’s security and to deepen economic and business ties.
A strong Georgia is in the interest of the United States. That is why Georgia has enjoyed strong US support under both Republican and Democratic administrations, which have consistently defended international law and condemned aggressive violations of national sovereignty.
Georgia remains a loyal and fully capable ally of the United States; it has contributed to global security, and has been an active participant in every military campaign conducted by the US since 2003, providing significant and unconditional support. This has been achieved at the cost of Georgian soldiers’ lives.
– Georgia is a reliable and strategic transit country for the US military, for the global energy markets, and for Asia-Europe trade.
– Georgia is a vital ally to the West in a changing geopolitical environment, which includes an aggressive and revisionist Russia, a disintegrating Europe, and a volatile Turkey within an unstable Middle East.
– Georgia is a regional leader in political, economic and social reforms, a country that has defeated petty corruption, and which continues to build on policies of political and economic reform.
Georgia has achieved all these successes despite the Russian occupation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region (South Ossetia), and continued Russian intimidation.
Georgia is a consistent and reliable ally of the United States. We strongly believe that the United States should continue supporting a country that has proved its loyalty, both through its participation in NATO and through its steadfast defense of US interests in the region.
The Georgian Service celebrated its 65thanniversary on May 26, 2016 at VOA headquarters in Washington DC. Several dignitaries were in attendance including Georgia’s ambassador to the United States, Archil Gegeshidze, the Honorable Kenneth Yalowitz, former U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, and the Honorable Kurt Volker, Executive Director, the McCain Institute for International Leadership and former U.S. Permanent Representative to NATO. The current U.S. Ambassador to Georgia, Ian Kelly delivered a message by video. Anna Kalandadze, Chief of the Georgian Service moderated the event. The Georgian Association has been an active supporter of the Georgian Service–indeed several Board members’ fathers worked for the service for many years. And, the first director of the Service, Irakli Orbeliani, was a founding member of the Georgian Association. Congratulations to the Georgian Service on its over six decades of fulfilling its mission of providing objective and timely news to the people of Georgia.
The Georgian Association in the United States welcomes the recent remarks by the Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkēvičs who met with Tinatin Khidasheli, the Defence Minister of Georgia on April 16 in Bratislava. The Latvian Foreign Minister expressed full support for visa-free travel for Georgian citizens to the Schengen Area as well as Georgia’s aspiration to join NATO. He noted that no third country has a right to veto NATO’s open door policy. Both ministers pledged to continue active cooperation in the defense sector.
Below is a copy of the statement. View the original statement on the CEEC website.
Central and East European Coalition Statement on Ukraine and Call for Further Action
The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC) joins the United States government in condemning Russiaâ€™s aggression against Ukraine and its illegal annexation of Crimea. The CEEC, comprised of 18 national organizations representing more than 20 million Americans of Central and Eastern Europe heritage, fully supports Ukraineâ€™s aspirations for a democratic society living in peace and security with its neighbors.
To date, the sanctions imposed by the United States have been insufficient to stop Russiaâ€™s further aggression into Ukraine. Indeed, it appears that the security and stability of the entire Central and East European region is at stake unless further immediate action is taken by the United States, NATO, and the European Union.
The CEEC therefore calls upon the United States government to do, and work with its allies to implement, the following:
- Support a major OSCE and UN peacekeeping mission (both civilian and military) to Eastern and Southern Ukraine to monitor the situation on the ground and deter provocations that may lead to Russian military intervention;
- Share relevant intelligence with the Ukrainian government in real time;
- Hold immediate joint NATO exercises in Ukraine and in bordering NATO ally countries such as Poland and the Baltic states;
- Support the establishment of permanent NATO bases in these front-line countries to assure their security. Bases currently used by NATO for training and supply purposes in Central Europe should be made permanent and re-focused to territorial defense;
- Direct U.S. Navy ships to accept friendly invitations to visit Ukrainian ports;
- Provide Ukraine with Major Non-NATO Ally Status, thus conferring a variety of military and financial advantages and privileges that are otherwise not available to non-NATO countries, including the delivery of vital weapons;
- Extend immediate NATO Membership Action Plan (MAP) to Georgia and other countries in the region to solidify Euro-Atlantic structures;
- Increase U.S. assistance to Georgia, Armenia, Moldova, and Belarus to maintain their independence;
- Provide assistance to Ukraine to facilitate its continuing transition to a democratic and tolerant society that fully respects fundamental freedoms and the rights of all minority communities, the latter thereby also dispelling a pretext for Russian aggression;
- Support Ukraineâ€™s full integration into Western structures by accelerating Ukraineâ€™s accession into NATO and the European Union
- Take action on President Obamaâ€™s Executive Order expanding economic sanctions on Russia to include not only individuals within Putinâ€™s inner circle, but major sectors of Russiaâ€™s economy; provide assistance to minimize the impact of economic sanctions on countries bordering Russia; work with major U.S. companies to curtail their business dealings with Russia;
- Follow through to provide increased funding authorized by the Ukraine Support Act, signed by President Obama into law on April 3, for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and the Voice of America to expand their broadcasting in Russian, Ukrainian, and Tatar;
- Increase funding for people to people programs with Russia and its neighboring countries in both student and professional sectors;
Bolster U.S. financial support for Ukraine by supporting a 21st century Marshall Plan aimed at stabilizing and strengthening trans-Atlantic and regional security.
By implementing the above recommendations, we will build on the laudable steps already taken by President Obama and help ensure the safety and security of not only Ukraine, but the entire Central and East European region.ges, and other content.
Below is a transcription of the statement. View a copy of the actual statement here.
Statement of the Georgian Association in the United States of America
The Georgian Association in the United States of America, the oldest organization representing the Georgian-American community, condemns Russia’s annexation of Crimea in the strongest terms and fully supports the government of Ukraine in declaring the March 16th referendum on Crimea’s independence illegal. The Association calls on the US Government to undertake all possible steps to protect the fundamental principles of international law, based on sovereignty and the territorial integrity of nation-states.
The Association calls on the Obama administration to ensure security guarantees for Georgia and to advocate forcefully for Georgia’s accession into NATO. Granting Georgia the Membership Action Plan (MAP), which it has earned by meeting strict NATO requirements, is a more effective way to impose a real political cost on Moscow for its illegal and politically destabilizing activities, while demonstrating to Ukraine and other countries that the hard work of reform pays off.
Economic sanctions and a travel ban against individual members of the Russian political and military leadership alone are unlikely to convince Russia to withdraw its military from Crimea and to respect the territorial integrity of Ukraine for several reasons.
First, it is highly unlikely that sanctions alone will persuade President Putin to relinquish Crimea or to allow Ukraine out of Russia’s political orbit. The Kremlin’s desire to keep its immediate neighbors within its sphere of influence trump any economic interests that may be damaged by sanctions.
Second, based on their experience in 2008, President Putin and his circle are convinced that Russia can wait out sanctions. They expect Europe to cave in due to its dependence on Russian gas and the damaging economic losses that will result from tit-for-tat sanctions. Whether this belief is accurate is immaterial; what matters is that Putin and his inner circle perceive it to be true and will base their actions on this perception. Relying on economic sanctions will not yield their intended political effect, especially given the autocratic nature of the Russian government and its insensitivity to domestic pressures.
Offering NATO membership to Georgia is a proper strategic response. NATO membership, in concert with the EU’s Eastern Partnership program, extends stability and prosperity to qualified countries, and serves the interests of the United States. The alternative is a Russian model of confrontation, dismemberment of neighboring states, instability and corrupt governance,
In order to extend NATO membership to Georgia, the US government should open immediate dialogue with its NATO partners, Germany and Turkey, as well as with the UK, which is the host nation of the next summit, to push Georgia’s MAP forward at an accelerated pace.
Given Georgia’s significant contributions to US-led military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, its strategic location and its success in becoming a stable and democratic state, the Association calls on the US government to immediately begin negotiations with its NATO allies to ensure the rapid promotion of Georgia’s NATO membership.
Below is a transcription of the statement. View a copy of the actual statement here.
Statement of the Georgian Association in the United States of America
The Georgian Association in the United States of America, the oldest organization representing the Georgian-American community, is deeply concerned about mounting Russian pressure on its neighbors, primarily on states which are trying to pursue an independent foreign policy and are aiming at European integration. In the last several weeks under Russian pressure, Armenia and Ukraine reversed their decision to sign documents with the European Union on Association, and on Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreements. Unfortunately, Russia prevailed over the EU.
On 17 September 2013, Russian occupation forces in the Tskhinvali region of Georgia (South Ossetia) began erecting barbed-wire fencing along administrative borders, separating the region from the rest of Georgia and dividing villages and their communities. The Georgian Association believes this not only undermines Georgia’s independence and sovereignty, but also runs counter to US foreign policy interests in the region.
Since achieving independence more than two decades ago, Georgia has shown its support for Western ideals and has pursued integration into Euro-Atlantic structures. On October 27, 2013, Georgia held its sixth presidential election, which was praised by all election observers as organized, fair, and transparent, and which finalized the peaceful transfer of power to the political opposition. At the end of November 2013, Georgia is expected to initial an Association Agreement with the European Union at the EU’s third Eastern Partnership Summit in Vilnius. This event will draw Georgia one step closer to integration into European structures.
The government of the Russian Federation sees Georgia’s attempts to integrate with the EU and NATO as a threat, and is placing many obstacles in Georgia’s path. Russian strategy is to destabilize Georgia through the occupation of the two break-away regions of Abkhazeti (Abkhazia) and Tskhinvali Region (South Ossetia).
Russia’s aggressive behavior toward Georgia flies in the face of accepted norms of international behavior, and runs counter to US strategic interests for a number of reasons. First, Georgia is a firm ally of the United States, contributing, per capita, one of the highest troop levels to US-led military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. Second, Georgia is a key transit country and indispensable element of the energy and transportation corridor that connects Europe with Central Asia and China. Finally, as one of only a handful of countries in the region with truly competitive democratic processes, Georgia preserves and promotes Western values in a volatile region of geostrategic importance.
Given the importance of Georgia’s territorial integrity, independence and sovereignty to US strategic interests in the region, we urge your administration to undertake the following steps:
- – The White House should issue a statement on the occasion of the EU’s third Eastern Partnership Summit, which reaffirms US support for Georgiaâ€™s integration into Euro-Atlantic structures, and its right to pursue independent foreign policy decisions.
- – The United States should redouble its efforts through diplomatic channels to end the Russian military occupation of internationally recognized Georgian territory, to stop the construction of physical barriers and demolish already constructed ones to allow free movement of Abkhazian, Ossetian, Georgian and other citizens of Georgia through the administrative borders between Georgia and the occupied territories.
- – The United States should start diplomatic efforts in preparation for the NATO summit of 2014 to recognize Georgia’s progress in military reforms, as well as Georgia’s military contribution to the international security forces, and to issue NATOâ€™s membership action plan for Georgia.
- – The United States Government should plan multiple visits of high level delegations from the US government throughout 2014 to send a strong signal of high level engagement with Georgia and its partner countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia.
The Georgian Association is open for collaboration with the United States Government in its effort to support all the above mentioned efforts.
Board of Directors of the Georgian Association in the USA
The CEEC expresses concern over the Russian Government’s pressure on its neighbors on the eve of the Eastern Partnership Summit of the EU to be held in Vilnius on November 27-28, 2013. Below is a transcription of the letter.
Dear Mr. President:
The Central and East European Coalition (CEEC), a coalition of diaspora groups representing more than twenty million Armenian, Belarusan, Bulgarian, Czech, Estonian, Georgian, Hungarian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish, Romanian, Slovak and Ukrainian Americans, is gravely concerned over Russian government pressure on its neighbors on the eve of the Eastern Partnership Summit of the European Union, to be held in the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius on November 27-28, 2013. At stake is the country of Ukraine, which will be afforded an opportunity to sign an Association Agreement (AA) on a Deep and Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (DCFTA) with the EU, while it is anticipated that other countries such as Georgia, Armenia, and Moldova are planning to initial the agreement, in anticipation of final approval by next year.
Unfortunately, the Russian Federation sees the process of Euro-integration of these countries as a threat to its national interests. Russian officials are on record expressing their discontent and have threatened economic ramifications should such agreements be reached. As an alternative to the European Union, the Russian government has initiated the Eurasian Customs Union and is trying to persuade countries on its borders to become members. The current membership in the Customs Union includes Russia, Kazakhstan, and Belarus. More recently, it was announced that Armenia would join the Customs Union.
As the date of the Vilnius Summit approaches, pressure continues to mount from the Russian Federation upon those countries vying for European integration. Such pressure has evolved in many forms, in particular: a ban on certain Moldovan and Ukrainian imports into the Russian market; the borderization and creeping annexation of the territories of Georgia occupied by Russian military forces since 2008, among other actions. Russia recently concluded a very aggressive Zapad-13 military exercise in the Kaliningrad region, continuing a pattern of war games simulating threats to NATO members in the region, in this case Poland and the Baltic states. The Russian Federation is advancing its tactics on other states, particularly on Ukraine, a strategic partner of the United States and a keystone to stability and security in Europe.
While the United States is not a member of the European Union, U.S. diplomatic efforts to reinforce democratic processes and defend our national interests cannot be underestimated. In December 2012, Secretary Clinton mentioned, in her final speech as Secretary of State, the imminent threat of Russiaâ€™s undue influence in the region. â€œThere is a move to re-Sovietize the region,â€ she stated. â€œItâ€™s not going to be called that. Itâ€™s going to be called a customs union, it will be called Eurasian Union and all of that. But let’s make no mistake about it. We know what the goal is and we are trying to figure out effective ways to slow down or prevent it.â€ Several European leaders and officials within the European Commission have also expressed their concern over these recent developments.
Mr. President, efforts by the United States should help to relieve the strain being placed on Russiaâ€™s western-oriented neighbors. To do so, we propose several policy recommendations that would strengthen democratic institutions in the region:
1) Issue a White House statement emphasizing the importance of U.S. strategic interests in Central and Eastern Europe and independent nations making their own future decisions;
2) Utilize diplomatic channels by the U.S. government to raise concerns about the encroachment of Russian territorial interests in the region, especially with respect to Georgia;
3) Strengthen our resolve with nations within NATO who have been threatened by Russia — e.g., Estonia with cyber intrusions — and thus may experience similar Russian manipulation after the Eastern Partnership Summit in November; and, 4) Meet with CEEC members at the White House to show a public sign of support for the region.
We hope that you agree on the importance of these issues and will take steps to underscore U.S. support for the countries wishing to align themselves with the EU. We look forward to the opportunity to meet with you to further discuss these issues.
On June 14, 2013, the U.S. House of Representatives approved H.R. 1960 National Defense Authorization Act, which contains a statement in Section 1244 related to Georgia. The section expresses general support to Georgia, and then heavily focuses on internal political developments in Georgia. Part (b) (3) of the statement reads: â€œThe measures taken by the Georgian Government against former officials and political opponents, apparently in part motivated by political considerations, may have a significant negative impact on cooperation between the United States and Georgia, including efforts to build a stronger relationship in political, economic, and security matters, as well as progress on integrating Georgia into international organizations.â€ The statement ends with condolences to the Georgian people for the death in Afghanistan of ten Georgian soldiers, serving in ISAF operations, as a result of two separate bombings.
The Georgian Association expresses deep concern over this statement in the NDAA. Attaching this language to the NDAA is damaging to the US-Georgia strategic partnership, which is built upon trust, respect and institutional integrity. The timing of this statement against the backdrop of the significant losses of Georgian troops in Afghanistan is particularly insensitive.
The United States Congress should express its position towards internal developments in Georgia, using appropriate committees in both chambers of Congress, as well as the bipartisan Helsinki Committee. This particular position, however, should be based on a thorough investigation of the realities on the ground.
Linking Georgia’s internal politics to the issue of US-Georgian strategic and military cooperation only strengthens Russian hegemony in the region, while simultaneously undermining US influence. We encourage members of the US Congress to use strong language on enhancing defense cooperation with Georgia previously included in the draft NDAA bill, adopted by House Armed Service Committee on June 7 in a 59-2 vote.
The Georgian Association in the United States calls on its members to contact members of Congress to advocate for a bill that serves both the US-Georgia partnership and the interests of the United States in a geopolitically important region.
The Board of Directors Georgian Association in the USA
On Monday, February 8, 2010, Jacques de Lajugie, the head of international sales at the French Defense Ministrys weapons production agency (Direction Gnrale pour l’Armement or DGA), confirmed that the French government agreed to sell Russia one Mistral-class advanced amphibious helicopter carrier and is considering a request for three more.
Possession of this state-of-the-art assault ship will significantly increase Russias force projection capabilities in the Baltic and the Black Seas, which will considerably undermine the security of the US and NATO allies in the region. Russias willingness to use the Mistral assault ship against Georgia is evident in the remarks of Admiral Vladimir Visotskiy, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, who in September of last year noted that possession of this warship during the war with Georgia in 2008 would have allowed the Black Sea Fleet to accomplish its military objectives in forty minutes. In the conflict in August last year [against Georgia], a ship like that would have allowed the [Russian] Black Sea Fleet to accomplish its mission in 40 minutes, not 26 hours which is how long it took us [to land the troops ashore] (Interfax, September 11, 15).
The Mistral sale marks the first time a NATO country has willingly transferred to Russia an advanced offensive weapons platform. This is alarming given that the Kremlins recently released national military doctrine explicitly states that NATOs eastward expansion is the main external military threat to the Russian Federation. The French decision threatens NATO alliance solidarity and ignores Eastern European members, who have repeatedly warned against the Mistral sale.
The U.S. Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, during his recent visit to Paris expressed Washingtons concerns over the Mistral sale to his French counterpart, Herv Morin, but with little result. Unfortunately the interests of the French manufacturer, DCNS, based at the shipyards in Saint-Nazaire, prevailed over much more significant geopolitical considerations. This decision sets a precedent for other arms producers in Western Europe, who will now see Russia as a lucrative market for advanced naval military technology.
The Georgian Association in the United Sates, Inc. strongly protests the French governments decision to transfer the Mistral-class amphibious assault ship to Russia and calls on the United States Government to use all its diplomatic power to halt the sale. The Georgian Association also calls on the US government for pro-active Eastern European/Black Sea/Caspian policy to increase security and boost the regional cooperation.
The Georgian Association in the United States
On August 8, 2009 the Georgian Association organizied a peaceful protest by the Russian Embassy to remember the victims of the Russian military attacks on Georgia one year ago.
In August 2008, in violation of the U.N. Charter, the Russian government invaded and occupied the sovereign Georgian territory. Russian forces committed and encouraged human rights violations, including ethnic cleansing against people of Georgian descent in the occupied territories. Under no circumstances should such actions be tolerated by the international community.
The Georgian Association in the United States, Inc. calls on the United States Government to continue its policy of open support for Georgias territorial integrity in its internationally recognized borders, which include Abkhazia and South Ossetia. The United States must act, and demand withdrawal of Russian occupational forces from Georgia.
The limited EU Monitoring Mission in Georgia, which oversees the August 12, 2008 peace agreement brokered between Georgia and Russia by French President Sarkozy, is now the only security mechanism on the ground. We urge the United States to support the strengthening of this mechanism. The EU Monitoring Mission should be enlarged and must be allowed to work inside the Abkhazia and South Ossetia regions of Georgia. This will enhance the security of local populations and help prevent further provocations.
- Georgia is under attack by an authoritarian power that refuses to recognize international law. This is a situation that Western powers have encountered many times before in Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Afghanistan. The US must take the lead in fiercely condemning Russian aggression, which is a threat not only for Georgian independence but for many other Russian neighbors such as Ukraine and the Baltic states where Russia also has territorial disputes. The issue before the world community not only concerns Georgian democracy and respect for national sovereignty, but how to control the growth of a dangerous imperial and authoritarian regime in Russia. Should Russia pursue its war with impunity, we can expect continuing instability in the Caucasus for decades to come. No new democracy will be safe or able to thrive on Russia’s borders.
This is a decisive moment for Western policy toward Russia. Do we allow a Russian military victory in Georgia which will reinforce Russian militarism and further weaken its democratic forces (the Russian media is already a propaganda machine for the state), or do we take the proper action that will reinforce democracy and international law.
The Georgian Association appeals to the US government to:
- Demand the immediate withdrawal of Russian troops from Georgia from Russia
- To take the diplomatic lead and dispatch US envoys to the EU, Russia and Georgia to coordinate international action
- To demand an immediate ceasefire and the end of civilian targeting by Russian planes
- The establishment of a new international peace keeping regime in South Ossetia to replace the failed Joint Control Commission controlled by Russia. If Russia fails to cooperate and continues bombing of Georgia and occupation of the parts of its territory, the international community must take the appropriate action including measures to ensure the diplomatic isolation of Russia. This is a decisive moment for Western powers and the Georgian Association hopes that both the USA and EU clearly recognize the danger to political stability in Europe that Russian actions present.
. The Georgian Association in the USA Inc.
Chicago, IL — “Over the last several weeks, Russia and Georgia have been engaged in a steadily more dangerous confrontation over two secessionist regions of Georgia — South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Although these territories are located within Georgia’s internationally-recognized borders, the Russian government seems determined to challenge Georgia’s territorial integrity in both places. Developments took an especially provocative turn several days ago when four Russian warplanes violated Georgian airspace close to the Georgian capital for forty minutes.
All parties — Russia first and foremost — must now reduce tensions, avoid the risks of war, and reengage in peaceful negotiations.
As I stated in April of this year, I am committed to upholding the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Georgia. This commitment has long been a fundamental building block of U.S. policy, and it will not change under an Obama Administration. I also affirm Georgia’s right to pursue NATO membership. This aspiration in no way threatens the legitimate defense interests of Georgia’s neighbors.
Only a political settlement can resolve the conflicts over Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Russia needs to roll back the aggressive actions it has taken in the last three months. The Georgian government must resist the temptation to be drawn into a military conflict. All parties must make clear that they are committed to a diplomatic settlement and will not seek to resolve this dispute by force.
The international community must become more active in trying to defuse this confrontation. The fact that Russia has become a party to the conflict means that Russia is not qualified to play the role of a mediator. The visit to Georgia by German Foreign Minister Steinmeier this week was a positive, important step towards establishing a larger role for the European Union. The Euro-Atlantic community must speak with one voice in helping to promote peace in this volatile region. As part of the de-escalation process, a multilateral peacekeeping force must eventually replace the Russian peacekeeping force currently deployed in Abkhazia.”