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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Georgia, Ukraine Seek UN Support

APGeorgian President Mikheil Saakashvili preparing in Tbilisi on Friday to fly to New York for the UN General Assembly.
TBILISI, Georgia -- The leaders of Georgia and Ukraine go to the United Nations this week hoping to shore up Western support for their future NATO accession in the face of a militarily resurgent Russia.

"Young democracies in this region need the support of developed democracies," Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili will say in a speech to the UN General Assembly on Tuesday, according to senior government official Kakha Lomaia. "That's why developed democracies need to provide clear roadmaps to meet our European and Euro-Atlantic aspirations."

Beyond harsh words, Western powers have yet to define a strategic response to the war over Georgia's breakaway region of South Ossetia, in which Russia showed that it was ready to use force to defend spheres of "privileged interest" in its former Soviet backyard. Russia is incensed by NATO's promise of membership for Tbilisi and Kiev.

Before boarding a flight to New York on Friday, Saakashvili vowed to confront what he called "the law of the jungle."

"There are lots of hurdles that Russia will put on our way because Russia has crossed the red line," Saakashvili told reporters. "They want to bring it back to the law of the jungle."

Saakashvili also thanked the United States and European nations for their support after the Russian invasion.

"We will speak to the General Assembly about this aggression and ethnic cleansing conducted on our territory that is still going on," he said.

The Kremlin's decision to deploy forces in defense of pro-Moscow separatists in South Ossetia also rattled nerves in Ukraine, which accuses Russia of stoking tensions in Crimea, a region populated mainly by ethnic Russians and Russian-speakers.

Divisions over policy toward Russia contributed to the collapse last week of Ukraine's governing coalition, raising the prospect of a third parliamentary election in as many years.

"The Russia-Georgia conflict has shown that there is no collective security," said Andriy Goncharuk, foreign policy adviser to President Viktor Yushchenko. "And we have seen the predictable result -- what happens when one side is stronger than the other and there is nothing to offset that."

U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Thursday that the West should not give in to Russian "bullying."

But dependent on Russian gas and oil, some EU members -- notably France and Germany -- are anxious to avoid confrontation. In April, they blocked a U.S. bid to grant Georgia and Ukraine roadmaps to accession. A review is due in December.

An influential think tank said last week that there was a risk of NATO enlargement policy dividing the West. The International Institute for Strategic Studies said Washington would continue to advocate expansion to Tbilisi and Kiev, but "Europeans have a strong case to argue that it is in NATO's strategic interest to pause its enlargement policy."

"The West must not reply to [Russia's] defiant mood through a form of strategic autism, advancing its interests blind to the emotional response this can elicit from the Russian leadership," it said.

(Reuters, AP)