Question about the day’s meetings
Ambassador Degnan: We had a very good discussion about what’s happening in the region, the very serious and tragic war that was started by Mr. Putin and the Kremlin that is killing thousands of children and Ukrainian citizens out of completely unprovoked aggression. We also discussed my recent meetings in Washington and the mood there, and the support that there is in Washington for Georgia during this very critical time. It’s always important to stay in touch with all the political parties here, and to be able to convey the United States’ support for Georgia and our concerns regarding what’s going on in Ukraine: the very important message that we all need to be standing together in the face of this unprovoked Russian aggression.
Question about sanctions in relation to 2008 and today
Ambassador Degnan: In 2008, it’s important to remember there were a billion dollars in support allocated for Georgia, and there has been considerable investment by my country and other countries in helping Georgia strengthen its deterrence capabilities. The Georgia Defense Forces are quite a bit stronger than in 2008 as a result of the strong security cooperation and partnership that Georgia has with the United States and other friends of Georgia. In this situation, now, what is really important is that we all show a unified front to this Russian aggression that is killing thousands of Ukrainian civilians and devastating Ukrainian towns. The sanctions are intended to influence Russia’s behavior, and I would just say clearly, no one is asking Georgia’s government to come up with bilateral sanctions if they don’t want to, if that’s not what they’ve decided they should do. Bilateral sanctions are for Georgia’s government to decide. What is expected of every country, my country, and every country that is standing against this Russian aggression is that there will be compliance with the international sanctions regime, and Georgia has always been a good partner in complying with international sanctions, whether against Iran or other countries that are working against the interests of countries like Georgia and the United States and all of our countries that believe in freedom and stability and security.
So, again, I think it’s important not to confuse the issues here about what we’re talking about when we’re talking about complying with international sanctions. Georgia is complying with international sanctions. Many of the sanctions may not affect Georgia directly. So I think it’s important to keep this in perspective and understand that Georgia, just like most countries, will be complying with international sanctions to the extent they can. There are consequences for any country that doesn’t comply with an international sanctions regime. We all know that. So, again, I think that the key thing here is that we all are sending a unified message of support to Ukraine, and one of the ways to do that is by complying with the international sanctions regimes.
Question about the proposed road from Chechnya to Georgia
Ambassador Degnan: Regarding the road, my understanding is this is a project that dates back to the Soviet times, to the 1970s or eighties. But in any case, before Russia starts talking about roads, projects, or promises like that to Georgia, they should fulfill their obligations under the 2008 ceasefire agreement and withdraw their forces from Georgian territory. I think if you want to judge Russia’s sincerity on any of the promises or statements that they’re making, look at what they’re doing in terms of their obligations under the 2008 agreement. They have not fulfilled any of them.