09-10-2022 19:00:20 Conflicts
A distinguished fellow at the Atlantic Council, a former assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs during the Obama and George W. Bush administrations, Daniel Fried has responded to Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko’s visit to the occupied Abkhazia region.
"Lukashenka appears to be giving his master in the Kremlin something because he will not, at least not yet, commit Belarusian troops to Russia’s war against Ukraine. That “something” is support for Abkhazia. It may be that Putin seeks Lukashenka’s support for, and recognition of, Russia’s forthcoming illegal annexation of Ukrainian lands and illegal annexation of South Ossetia and perhaps Abkhazia, should Putin decide to grab even more territory. We may find out soon," - Fried told the Accent.
According to him, "Georgia cannot stop Russia’s aggression against Ukraine or Georgia. But it can stop helping Putin."
"Georgia government should no longer adopt Putinist authoritarian methods or Putinist policies of nationalism and intolerance. If Georgia’s government rejects democracy, it will find itself without friends in Europe or the US to help defend its sovereignty from Putin’s next moves to extinguish it, which we may be confident are coming," he added.
On September 28 the Prime Minister, the President and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia announced that they "strongly condemn Alexander Lukashenko's visit to occupied Abkhazia". They called the visit "an unacceptable violation of the law on the occupied territories of Georgia".
On September 28, the Ambassador of Belarus was summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia, and a protest rally organized by the "Girchi - More Freedom" party took place near the embassy of Belarus in Tbilisi, where portraits of Putin and Lukashenko were burned.
This is Lukashenko’s first visit to the occupied region while in office. His last official visit to Tbilisi took place in March, 2018.
On February 7 Lukashenko said that he does not rule out recognizing the independence of Russian-occupied Abkhazia, Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia and annexed Crimean Peninsula “as long as I understand and President [Vladimir Putin] tells me there is a need for it.”
Moscow recognized the independence of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia on August 26, 2008, two weeks after the end of the Russo-Georgian war. Syria, Venezuela, Nauru, and Nicaragua are the only other nations that recognize the two regions’ independence from Georgia. Tbilisi and most of the international community regard the two regions as part of Georgia.
In 2009, Minsk was considering to recognize Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, but eventually refused to follow Moscow’s suit. Lukashenko then said he rejected the recognition because Moscow refused to share negative consequences, including sanctions expected for Belarus from the West in case of such decision.