‘Place US troops in Georgia to defend against Russia’ – Georgian ex-defense ministers
50 Georgian security and foreign policy experts and former high-ranking officials have asked US Secretary of State Michael Pompeo to permanently deploy US troops in Georgia to protect the country from Russian aggression.
The letter, together with other former members of the Georgian government, was signed by three ex-defense ministers – Tina Khidasheli, David Sikharulidze and Irakli Alasania.
Mike Pompeo is arriving in Georgia on November 17. He is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Giorgi Gakharia, President Salome Zurabishvili and other members of the government.
Also, the deployment of an American contingent in Georgia, according to the signatories of the letter, “would bring Georgia closer to NATO membership.”
“Georgia and the entire South Caucasus and the Black Sea region need protection from Russia,” the letter says.
“Most of the security threats stem from Russia’s desire to restore Soviet-era ’spheres of influence’, that is, in what Moscow calls its ‘near abroad’. Russia recently expanded its regional military presence by deploying troops in Nagorno-Karabakh,” the statement said.
Georgian security experts suggest introducing a rotation system for allied forces (EU / US) and elements of air patrolling.
The letter also states that the US-led Euro-Atlantic system is the only guarantee of peace in the region.
In addition, the signatories also stressed that they would welcome US participation in resolving the ongoing political crisis in Georgia.
Mike Pompeo will visit a total of seven countries November 13-23 and arrives in Tbilisi after France and Turkey.
The US State Department said in a statement that Pompeo is arriving in Georgia “to express support for Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and to call for further democratic reforms.”
The visit of the US Secretary of State to Georgia coincides with a tense situation – street rallies have been ongoing in the country since the October 31 parliamentary elections.
The opposition claims that the government falsified the elections, does not recognize the results and has refused to take up its parliamentary mandates. The government in turn says it has no intention of making concessions.
The protests have moved to the street, several thousand-strong demonstrations have taken place, one of which was dispersed using water cannons.