Russia must pay price over Ukraine: Georgia official

15th April 2014, Comments 0 comments

Russia must be made to pay a high price over the Ukraine crisis and cannot be allowed to do as it wants in eastern Europe, Georgia's ambassador to NATO said Tuesday.

"The price that Russia has to pay should be quite high," ambassador Levan Dolidze told AFP.

As Moscow shows no signs of changing course on Ukraine after winning Crimea, "it is critical that the West be actively engaged in the region," to show it will stand up to Russian pressure, Dolidze said.

He said the West had tried to "engage Russia in a positive way" after its 2008 war with Georgia, but this was taken by Moscow to mean it would not pay for its actions.

This time, it was essential that the West demonstrate its engagement and commitment to the region, sending a very clear message to a Moscow which is intent on restoring its Soviet era sphere of influence in eastern Europe, he said.

The United States and the European Union have both imposed asset freezes and visa bans on a series of Ukrainian and Russian officials held responsible for Crimea's breakaway from Ukraine, but have so far balked at harsher measures.

Dolidze said he could not comment on what specific actions the West might take.

In 2008, NATO opened up the prospect of full membership for both Georgia and Ukraine as long as they adopted democratic and economic reforms.

In 2010, Kiev dropped that option as part of its non-bloc policy but Tbilisi remains committed to eventual NATO membership.

Dolidze said his government believed it was making progress in meeting NATO's requirements for membership and hoped for progress later this year at the military alliance's September summit.

Russia has several thousand troops stationed in Georgia's breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia which it regards as sovereign states.

NATO in turn backs Georgia's territorial integrity.

© 2014 AFP

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