Facing Russia threat, Ukraine and Georgia join in push West

AFP , Tuesday 18 Jul 2017

Georgia's President Giorgi Margvelashvili (L) talks to his Ukrainian counterpart Petro Poroshenko during a signing ceremony in Tbilisi on July 18, 2017 (Photo: AFP)

The presidents of Ukraine and Georgia on Tuesday agreed to work together to further their ambitions to join NATO and the European Union, in defiance of threats from former master Russia.

Both of the ex-Soviet states have been torn apart by conflicts with Moscow-backed separatists as they seek to wriggle out from under the Kremlin's thumb and shift towards the West.

"We agreed to demand jointly and even more actively Georgia's and Ukraine's integration in the European and Euro-Atlantic space," Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili told the press.

The two countries' "independence and democracy face the very same threats," said Ukrainian leader Petro Poroshenko in Tbilisi, adding that they "will coordinate steps" in their quest for EU and NATO membership.

Kiev has been locked for over three years in a conflict with Kremlin-backed rebels who have carved out their own fiefdoms in the east of the country at the cost of some 10,000 lives.

Russia invaded Georgia in a brief war in 2008 and has recognised two separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent.

Both Kiev and Tbilisi have made joining US-led military bloc NATO and the European Union key long-term objectives.

However, there seems little prospect of either becoming members any time soon as Western allies are fearful of fuelling tensions with Moscow.

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