The United States is confident that Georgia and Ukraine will become members of the NATO military alliance, a top US administration official stated earlier today. Russia’s recognition of Georgian breakaway regions South Ossetia and Abkhazia has increased backing for Georgia and Ukraine’s admission to the 26-member NATO alliance, stated the official, who wished to remain anonymous. These statements were made as US Vice President Dick Cheney held talks with Italian leaders. Cheney last week vowed Washington’s backing for Baku, Tbilisi and Kiev during a tour of the region, and urged NATO to unite in order to ward off a return of “line-drawing” in Europe. He held weekend meetings with political and business leaders at a conference in Italy, including many of the top world oil executives. The official went on to state that the crisis in the former Soviet regions are “not just a US problem; all of Europe has a stake in how this is handled and whether or not these sovereign independent states remain free and independently sovereign states“.
“I think it will get resolved. The resolution that was adopted at the Bucharest summit that said Georgia and Ukraine will become members of NATO represents the thinking of most of our NATO allies.”At its summit in Bucharest in April, NATO leaders issued a statement that “these countries will become members of NATO” at an unspecified point in time.Russia has strongly opposed inclusion of Georgia and Ukraine, saying that NATO expansion and its support of a planned US anti-missile system in the Czech Republic and Poland is a “strategic error.”U.S. Special Envoy Matt Bryza took aim at Russian claims that Georgian forces started last month’s conflict with their move into South Ossetia’s capital.“It did not begin on August 7 with the attack on Tskhinvali, by Georgia, which we do believe was a mistake,” Bryza said. “It began much sooner, thanks to provocations by South Ossetian militias under the command, by the way, of Russian officers.”In an August 19 press briefing, Bryza, who gained recognition for his role in international efforts to resolve several post-Soviet “frozen conflicts” in the region, reviewed Russia’s expanded ties with Georgia’s breakaway regions. He cited Russia’s boosting its troop presence in the area, violations of Georgian airspace by Russian warplanes and Russian involvement in the leadership of separatist militias that launched a series of attacks on Georgian police and soldiers in the lead-up to the latest conflict.“Georgia did not launch a war. Georgia was drawn into one,” Bryza said.