US Ambassador to Tbilisi Kelly Degnan, a wiry lady with a striking military appearance, with precise cavalry pressure, began to implement in her activities the instructions she received from the White House to strengthen the militant positions of the United States in Georgia and Transcaucasia as a whole.
The soldiers of the 2nd cavalry regiment of the US armed forces and the 18th military police brigade personnel arrived in Georgia at the end of August to participate in the “Noble Partner-2020” military exercise. According to the Georgian Defense Ministry, this will involve more than 2,700 military personnel from Georgia and four NATO member countries (the United States, Great Britain, France, and Poland). These exercises will take place on September 7-18 at the Vaziani military airfield and training ground and the Norio training base in Georgia. Their stated goal is to “improve the combat readiness and compatibility of the armed forces of Georgia, the United States and partner countries,” especially in the Black Sea region.
On the eve of these exercises, Lieutenant General Roger Clothier, the NATO ground forces commander, arrived in Tbilisi. His purpose was to have discussions with the head of the Georgian Military Department, Irakli Garibashvili, and other representatives of the Georgian authorities on the issues of interaction between the Alliance and Georgia, reforms in the country’s defense forces to NATO standards, and the “occupied territories” situation. The latter are what Georgia designates Abkhazia and South Ossetia as.
At the same time, it should be borne in mind that Georgia was promised membership in NATO in April 2008, but the country has not yet received an “Action Plan” for joining the North Atlantic Alliance. Since then, as the French publication AgoraVox states, Georgia has waged an unsuccessful war, hosted the American Lugar center for USA biological experiments in Georgia, yet received nothing from the US in return. However, it is both France and Germany who are slowing down the process, as these countries do not want to fight with Russia for Georgia. But according to the NATO Charter, this is what should be done. For a country that “practices radical nationalism” at that.
As for the “occupied territories” declared by Tbilisi, it is appropriate to recall that the Independent International Fact-Finding Mission on the 2008 Conflict in Georgia has already concluded that Georgia started the war. In 2009, the head of the Mission, Heidi Tagliavini, presented a report with conclusions prepared by 30 military experts, historians, and lawyers, to representatives of Russia, Georgia, the European Union, the OSCE, and the UN. The document States with indisputable confirmations that on August 7, 2008, it was Georgia that launched a massive bombardment on Tskhinvali and nearby villages with artillery, mortars, and Grad multiple launch rocket systems, killing hundreds of people, including civilians and Russian peacekeepers. Russia, protecting its citizens, announced the beginning of an operation to force the Georgian aggressor to peace and then recognized the sovereignty of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, which suffered a treacherous attack by Georgia.
As AgoraVox rightly notes, “after the collapse of the Soviet Union, NATO became an American colonial policy instrument, and nothing more. It is much more profitable for Washington to act in Georgia without involving it in the Alliance. Even without membership, the United States has many opportunities to use the small republic. Besides, the Georgian authorities dutifully allow Washington to conduct its business in Georgia.”
Well, in such a situation, how can we not teach Georgians how to live? – That’s what the American Ambassador, Kelly Degnan did. On August 21, she presented a cavalryman-like vision of how the Georgian people should act in the upcoming October 31 parliamentary elections. And to ensure that everyone only listens to what she has to say and to cover her interference in Georgia’s domestic affairs she garnered support of the US propaganda campaign already in full swing in the country and came up with the tried and true boogeyman of Russia (and not US!) seeking to meddle in the upcoming Georgian elections.
Ms Degnan’s teachings were also directed to the Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, as she in a not at all diplomatic form demanded that air traffic between Russia and Georgia be opened. Fortunately, unlike the American “diplomat,” the special representative of the Prime Minister of Georgia for relations with Russia, Zurab Abashidze spoke more diplomatically. The issue of resuming air traffic is Russia’s prerogative, not the United States. It was Russia that initiated the end of air traffic due to the epidemiological situation. Moreover, the requirement to open air traffic, despite the coronavirus pandemic, is completely surprising, since not only the United States itself but also Europe is closing air traffic with several countries.
From the US Ambassador Kelly Degnan’s point of view, Russia should use its funds to pay for and maintain regimes that are not friendly to it, and capitulate in all directions. And one such direction is forcing Russia to open air traffic with Georgia because, against the background of a ruined economy, one of the primary sources of existence for this country was international tourism, the lion’s share of which was provided by tourists from the Russian Federation. The financial resources they left in the country helped tens of thousands of families to at least somehow ease the stranglehold of poverty. However, the Georgian media recently began to more closely follow instructions from the United States regarding spreading Russophobia in the country, which resulted in provocations against Russian citizens staged by representatives of the pro-American fifth column, with the instigation of the United States. These were attacks on tourists, damage to cars, and other not so friendly actions. So is it really possible, against the background of this unbridled bacchanalia, for Russia to rush to its own detriment to lift the ban on air traffic with Georgia, primarily due to the US Ambassador’s non-diplomatic demands?
Another area of public activity of Ms Degnan is strengthening anti-Russian sentiment in Georgia, especially on the situation around Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Instigated by the US, Georgia’s current political elite is demanding that Russia withdraw its recognition of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. However, by analogy, why would the US not set a personal example and restore the British crown’s rights on its territory?
As for Kelly Degnan’s activities not as a representative of the US military circles, but as a diplomat of the highest caliber, it’s worth recalling that the profession of a diplomat has many centuries of history. It still has not lost its relevance, but, on the contrary, is becoming more and more critical. In the context of active inter-state communication, as well as increased inter-ethnic conflicts, it is the activity of diplomats from various countries that can lead to the settlement of disputes, the establishment of friendly relations between States, and world peace.
Vladimir Platov, Middle East expert, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.