US Vice President Condemns Russia's Unilateral Border Move



U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney has condemned Russia's military operation in Georgia as an illegitimate and unilateral attempt to change the country's borders by force.  VOA Moscow Correspondent Peter Fedynsky reports.

Speaking at a news conference in Tbilisi with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, Vice President Cheney said Russian actions in Georgia "cast grave doubt on Russia's intentions and on its reliability as an international partner, not just in Georgia, but across this region and indeed throughout the international system." 

Mr. Cheney added that America will work with the governments of Georgia and other allies to protect common U.S.-Georgian interests and values.

"After your nation won its freedom in the Rose Revolution, America came to the aid of this courageous young democracy," he said.  "We are doing so again as you work to overcome an invasion of your sovereign territory, and an illegitimate, unilateral attempt to change your country's borders by force that has been universally condemned by the free world."

Mr. Cheney visited Tbilisi for a show of support following Georgia's recent conflict with Russia, whose forces pushed into the Caucasus nation after Georgian forces launched an offensive against the breakaway South Ossetia region.  The vice-president's visit follows a U.S. pledge of one-billion dollars in assistance to help Georgia rebuild housing, transportation and other infrastructure destroyed in its conflict with Russia last month.  U.S. officials say the aid package does not include any military assistance.

Mr. Cheney met Wednesday in Baku with Azerbaijan's President Ilham Aliyev, saying the United States has a deep and abiding interest in the security of the Caucasus.  His trip includes a visit to Ukraine.

Meanwhile, foreign ministers of six former Soviet republics allied in the Collective Security Treaty Organization issued a statement in Moscow expressing concern over Georgia's use of military force in South Ossetia.  While the CSTO, backed Russia's role in the Georgian conflict, the organization's member states did not follow Moscow's lead in recognizing the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. 

The CSTO member states are Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. 

To date, only Nicaragua has extended such recognition.  Nonetheless, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov says Moscow is pleased with the CSTO statement.

The senior Russian diplomat says the document places all of the right accents, including the unacceptability of military force by Georgia, on finding ways to prevent renewed use of force, and an assessment of everything going on around South Ossetia. 

Georgian President Saakashvili, speaking with Mr. Cheney at his side, said his country is committed to a peaceful resolution of all issues and is committed to dialogue with all domestic forces as well as any nations in the neighborhood and worldwide.

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