The Bush administration Wednesday announced a $1 billion economic aid
package for Georgia to help that country recover from last month's
conflict with Russia. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said the U.S.
package is part of an unprecedented global show of support for Georgia
in the face of aggression by its larger neighbor. VOA's David Gollust
reports from the State Department.
Rice coupled announcement of the aid plan with harsh criticism of Russian behavior during and after the brief conflict.
said the invasion by Russia failed to topple Georgia's democracy but
has raised serious questions about the wisdom of integrating Moscow
into international institutions.
The U.S. aid package is
entirely economic and U.S. officials say they hope more than half of
it, about $570 million, can be delivered by the end of the year.
bipartisan sympathy and support for Georgia in the U.S. Congress, Rice
expressed confidence the remainder will be provided, regardless of
whether Senator Barack Obama or Senator John McCain wins the November
At the roll-out event for the aid plan, the Secretary
of State said Russia may have demonstrated its military potency in
Georgia but the operation has called into question its standing as a
responsible player in world affairs. "It is very clear that Russia is
not achieving its objectives. Georgian democracy is standing. It is
thriving. It is receiving extraordinary international support -- that
despite the unfortunate Russian decision to recognize South Ossetia and
Abkhazia, which are zones of conflict and which in the very cease-fire
agreement that Russia signed, were to be subject of international
discussions," she said.
Administration officials who briefed
reporters joined Rice in calling for full Russian adherence to the
French-brokered cease-fire accord. They rejected Moscow's assertion it
is entitled, under the six-point plan, to set up a buffer zone or
checkpoints beyond the two disputed regions.
Department's top expert on the Caucasus region, Deputy Assistant
Secretary Matthew Bryza, also dismissed Moscow's continuing claim that
Georgia started the conflict by its troop movement in South Ossetia
August 7. "It did not begin on August 7th with the attack on
Tskhinvali, by Georgia, which we do believe was a mistake. But it began
much sooner, thanks to provocations by South Ossetian militias under
the command, by the way, of Russian officers. So Georgia did not launch
a war. Georgia was drawn into one," he said.
Bryza said there is
no military aid in the U.S. package because of Georgia's pressing
economic problems. But he clearly indicated that U.S. help in
rebuilding the country's military will be forthcoming, once the Tbilisi
government comes up with a new force-structure plan.
calls by Moscow for an arms embargo on Georgia, calling it a
peace-loving sovereign state that has a right to develop its own
military for defense, and contributions to international peace-keeping.