US extends military support to Georgia for 6 years

In this handout photo provided by the Georgian Prime Minister Press Office, Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, right, gestures while talking with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, second right, as Minister of Georgian Defense Juansher Burchuladze stands near them during their meeting in Tbilisi, Georgia, Monday, Oct. 18, 2021. U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin headed to the Black Sea region aiming to shore up alliances with countries pressured by Russia and show gratitude for their contributions to the two-decade war in Afghanistan. (Georgian Prime Minister Press Office via AP)

TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has signed an agreement to continue American support for Georgia’s military for six years.

The current agreement for such support is to expire at the end of the year, but Austin and Georgian Defense Minister Junasher Burchuladze signed the replacement agreement Monday during Austin’s visit to the country.

Austin said the U.S. support will help the former Soviet republic on the Black Sea build “effective deterrence and defense.”

U.S. support has included participating in military exercises with Georgian forces.

Georgia and Russia fought a short war in 2008 that ended with Russia gaining control of two separatist republics that account for about 20% of Georgia’s territory.

In a meeting with Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, Austin said “the United States condemns Russia’s ongoing occupation of Georgia and its attempts to expand influence into the Black Sea region through military coercion and malign activities.”

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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