The American Vice President Joe Biden has re-affirmed Washington’s unwavering support for Georgia, but ruled out a military solution to its breakaway regions. His visit to Tbilisi coincided with Russia saying it would never allow the re-arming of Georgian forces. Moscow also accused un-named states of hiding arms shipments to Georgia in humanitarian supplies.
Next month is the anniversary of last summer’s brief war over Abkhazia and Souoth Ossetia, and while Russia has recognised their independence, Biden said the world should not. “We, the United States, stand by you on your journey to a secure, free, democratic and once again united Georgia,” said Biden. “We will not recognize Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states and we urge the world not to recognise them.” Russia sees Georgia as part of its sphere of influence, but President Mikheil Saakashvili said those days are long gone. “Our choice is irreversible,” he said. “We decided to join the free world, Europe and the North Atlantic Alliance. This was supported by the Georgian people overwhelmingly in a referendum, a free poll, and nothing will reverse that.” Biden’s words of support will have heartened Georgia, but Russian troops remain in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, in some places just 50 kms from Tbilisi. Abkhazia claimed to have found a cache of weapons hidden in the disputed Kodori Gorge. Abkhaz defence sources said the guns and ammunition had been left by Georgia in preparation for a possible future attempt to re-take the strategic area.