US Vice-President Dick Cheney touched down in Azerbaijan as part of a trip to show support for key allies in the Caucasus. It comes, as the Bush administration plans to announce an aid package of almost seven hundred million Euros to help re-build war-torn Georgia. Moscow has accused Washington of fanning instability in the region. Cheney is also set to visit the Ukraine and Georgia during his tour.
The region’s oil is seen as vital to decrease the West’s dependence on Russia energy. Aimed at rebuilding essential infrastructure destroyed in the brief war with Russia over South Ossetia, US aid comes on top of an International Monetary Fund loan of more than 500 million Euros. And the EU, which stopped short of imposing sanctions on Moscow earlier this week announced its own aid package to Georgia.
‘‘We have immediately given humanitarian aid and this was of course the most urgent and most important, and that we will be doing so also in the future,’‘ said EU External Relations Minister Benita Ferrero Walder. ‘‘Indeed, member states and us together for the moment have been and we are continuing to do so, disposed of 15 million Euros on that,’‘ she said.
The wars repercussions drag on – Russia closed its embassy in Tbilisi after Georgia cut diplomatic ties with Moscow. On Tuesday, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev said it was time for Washington to re-evaluate its support for Georgia.