Fifteen years after Russia’s annexation of 20% of Georgia’s landmass, six Western nations have united to call for the immediate return of the South Ossetia and Abkhazia regions. The joint statement emerged from the United Nations Security Council, composed of the United States, United Kingdom, France, Albania, Japan, and Malta. This plea comes as the 2008 incursion into Georgia continues to resonate as a harbinger of Russia’s assertive regional policy, a trend mirrored today in its actions toward Ukraine.This collaborative announcement, issued after confidential council deliberations on the Georgia situation, emphasizes the shared commitment to uphold Georgia’s sovereignty, independence, and territorial unity according to internationally recognized boundaries.
The conflict traces back to August 2008, when Russia engaged in a brief conflict with Georgia, stemming from the latter’s ill-fated attempt to reclaim control over the seceded province of South Ossetia. Subsequently, Moscow extended recognition to the independence of South Ossetia and Abkhazia while establishing military installations within these territories.Delivered by Albanian Ambassador Ferit Hoxha amidst a gathering of diplomats from the participating nations, the statement unequivocally condemns Russia’s forceful intervention and its continued occupation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Additionally, it calls out Russia’s incremental steps towards annexing these Georgian regions. These Western powers also underscore their condemnation of Russia’s sustained provocations, coinciding with its unwarranted aggression against Ukraine.
The statement points to Russia’s ongoing military maneuvers in Georgian airspace and waters, the erection of barriers including barbed wire fences, unjust detentions and kidnappings of locals, discriminatory practices against ethnic Georgians, and intentional damage to Georgia’s cultural heritage.In line with established international law, including the principles enshrined in the U.N. Charter, which emphasize the recognition of each country’s territorial integrity, the six nations urge a peaceful resolution to the Russia-Georgia discord. This recommendation is particularly pertinent given Russia’s current belligerent stance against Ukraine.
Dmitry Polyansky, Russia’s deputy U.N. ambassador, countered the Western statement as “hypocrisy,” attributing Georgia’s territorial losses to its “reckless gamble.” While Russia had recently restored direct flights with Georgia, Polyansky contends that the relationship’s positive trajectory is marred by the West’s ulterior motives, aiming to disrupt their improving ties.In conclusion, the united stance of these Western powers serves as a testament to their firm commitment to international norms and the peaceful resolution of conflicts, even as geopolitical complexities and differing narratives persist.