Georgian Ambassador to the United States (US) David Bakradze spoke at the Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs at the United States Senate Committee of Appropriations yesterday.
The hearing aimed to broaden the understanding of Russia’s policies and intentions toward specific countries in Europe. Bakradze called for "a stronger America in Georgia and in the region”.
Bakradze also spoke about the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008 and its consequences.
"The conflict that started in the early 90’s reached its peak in 2008 with the Russian invasion of Georgia and occupation of our territories as the international community failed to effectively respond to early warning signs”, he said.
Bakradze added that Russia continues its occupation with up to 10,000 Russian military, security and FSB border guard personnel.
He noted that Russian occupation forces have no legal mandate and are in stark violation of international law.
"In 2009 Russia began installing razor wire fences and other artificial obstacles along the occupation line. The total length of the trenches across the both occupation lines is more than 62 miles”, he said, thanking those US officials who frequently visit the occupation line.
A part of Bakradze’s speech was devoted to Russian propaganda in Georgia.
"Georgia has been subject to different forms of unconventional hybrid warfare. Russian propaganda in Georgia, in addition to the economic embargo of 2006 and energy cuts [and] the cyber-attacks in 2008 seeks to change and derail Georgia’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration and aspirations”, he said.
"It builds on fears that exist in different societies, creating myths and communicating through different forms of media”.
Bakradze said that a recent example of this was "the spreading of false information that the well-deserved visa-free travel decision for Georgian citizens to Europe came at the expense of building refugee camps in Georgia”.
He added that Tbilisi believed the new US administration will soon develop a comprehensive long-term engagement strategy for the region and Georgia, which will include the strengthening of Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, improving bilateral trade and investment relationship and supporting the democratic choice of the Georgian people to integrate further with Euro-Atlantic institutions, including NATO.