The US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice has warned Russia to respect the sovereignty of its pro-Western neighbour Georgia. She was speaking in the Georgian capital Tbilisi, after officials there accused Russian fighter jets of violating its airspace to undermine her visit. Relations between Georgia and Russia have deteriorated over Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which want to breakaway.
She said: “I want to again affirm that the United States remains committed to the territorial integrity of Georgia, to its democratic development. It is extremely important that the conflicts in Abkhazia and South Ossetia be resolved on the basis of principles that respect that territorial integrity, that respect the need for them to be resolved peacefully.”
Both regions are recognised internationally as part of Georgia, but after wars in the 90s they now run their own affairs with Russian help. An American official travelling with Rice said Russia “needs to realise that the empire is gone,” and warned that the confrontation over the two regions could lead to catastrophe.