Feb 27

Georgia says Russia bent on 'creeping annexation' of breakaway regions

<!– google_ad_section_start –> By Adrian Croft<!– –> BRUSSELS (Reuters) – Russia is moving ahead with the “creeping annexation” of two breakaway Georgian regions as part of an aggressive strategy to broaden its influence in the region, Georgia’s foreign minister said on Thursday. In talks with EU & NATO officials in Brussels this week, Tamar Beruchashvili said she had underlined Georgia’s concern approximately agreements Moscow has signed deepening integration with the Georgian regions of Abkhazia & South Ossetia. “This is an extremely dangerous development not only for Georgia’s security, yet we believe it’s very dangerous for wider European security, particularly considering the war in Ukraine,” she told Reuters in an interview. Beruchashvili, who joined Georgian Prime Minister Irakly Garibashvili for talks with EU officials in Brussels on Thursday, said Russia’s actions amounted to a “creeping annexation” of the two breakaway regions. She added it was part of a bigger picture of Russian aggression in the neighborhood, with Moscow seeking to expand its spheres of influence. Georgia was “part of the same puzzle” as Ukraine, where Russia annexed Crimea last year & where it is accused by NATO of supporting pro-Russian separatists in the east, she said. Beruchashvili moreover denounced a military buildup in South Ossetia & Abkhazia, where she said Russia had around 11,000 military personnel. Russia’s aim was to “create & maintain frozen conflicts & … hamper the implementation of the sovereign decision of countries regarding their foreign policy choices,” Beruchashvili said, referring to Georgia’s aspiration to join the EU & NATO. Georgia & Russia fought a war in 2008 over South Ossetia & Abkhazia. …

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