GIP Commentary: The U.S. Military Budget and Georgia

  • The U.S. signaled its commitment to a NATO membership perspective for Georgia. The 2017 budget didn’t make direct reference to the MAP, so this is worth mentioning. It’s also consistent with messages from U.S. Vice President Mike Pence. During a visit to Georgia in late July, Pence declared that the U.S. stands behind the outcome of the 2008 NATO Bucharest Summit, which pledged eventual membership for Georgia.
  • In the absence of coherent strategy and messaging from the White House on Eastern Europe, Congress has taken the lead. Passage of the military budget comes about two months after Congress passed the Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act. The Act directly refers to Russia’s “illegal annexation of Crimea in 2014, its illegal occupation of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia in 2008, and its ongoing destabilizing activities in eastern Ukraine.” Georgia has many supporters in Congress, so more legislative activity is a good sign.
  • The document refers to Russia’s occupation of Abkhazia and South Ossetia but does not mention its creeping annexation and borderization activities. This is an oversight and an indicator that Georgia needs to work harder to raise awareness about borderization in Washington.
  • Whatever the Kremlin expected to get from the Trump Administration, it certainly wasn’t this. The president himself hasn’t criticized Putin or the regime. He hasn’t had to. Vice President Pence and majorities in both the Senate and the House of Representatives have sent a stern message: The U.S. will not allow Russia to return the countries of Eastern Europe to its sphere of influence, at least not without a fight.

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