Fresh from signing the missile shield agreement with the Czech Republic, Condoleeza Rice is moving onto another country also going head-to-head with Russia: Georgia.
The US Secretary of State is expected to appeal to Tblisi and Moscow for restraint as an explosive stand-off over two breakaway regions continues. Rice has cautioned both sides against provocative behaviour. But she will discuss Georgia’s Nato ambitions with President Mikhail Saakashvili. Those plans have also angered Russia.
Separatists in both Abkhazia and South Ossetia reject Georgian rule. Russian stands accused of supporting their breakaway movements and trying to annex the two Georgian regions.
One Russian analyst believes Georgia is using the situation as leverage with the US.
“It looks as if the Georgian authorities are persuading the United States that they need to speed up the process of getting closer to NATO in order to stabilize the situation,” said Fyodor Lukyanov, Editor-in-chief of ‘Russia in Global Affairs’. “Russia is of the opposite opinion. The faster Georgia moves towards NATO, the more likely it is Russia will recognise an independent Abkhazia.”
Four people were killed last weekend when a bomb exploded in a cafe in Abkhazia. Two more people died when rebels clashed with Georgian troops in South Ossetia. The violence follows two meetings in a month between the Russian and Georgian presidents.