On a recent visit to Georgia, Vice President Mike Pence assured the people of Georgia that the United States stands with them in the defense of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. The U.S. also supports Georgia in its pursuit of NATO membership.
It was only a generation ago that Georgia was still within the walls of the Soviet Union. That Communist regime personified everything that free peoples reject, and it sought to crush the independent spirit of the Georgian people.
But when the Soviet Union collapsed, Georgia reclaimed its liberty and reached out to the West. Indeed, this year marks the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between the United States and Georgia.
Today, the strategic partnership between the United States and Georgia is stronger than ever. The joint exercise Noble Partner is a tangible sign of that mutual commitment. Noble Partner will strengthen Georgia's ability to defend itself in the years ahead. And it will prepare Georgian soldiers to join NATO's Response Force in the future.
Even now Russian tanks sit on Georgian land in South Ossetia, occupying one-fifth of Georgian territory. "The United States," said Vice President Pence, "strongly condemns Russia's occupation of Georgia's soil," and "will continue to support Georgia's sovereignty and territorial integrity within its internationally recognized borders."
The United States has called on Russia to "cease its destabilizing activities," and will continue to work with Georgia to reduce its vulnerabilities and counter potential Russian aggression. In response to Russia's actions in Ukraine and elsewhere, President Trump signed legislation to strengthen sanctions against Russia.
"The United States has stood with Georgia since your independence," said Vice President Pence, "and under President Trump we will continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder and work hand-in-hand with you to fortify your defense, to strengthen your democracy, and to deepen your ties of friendship with Europe and the United States.”