WASHINGTON — The United States is urging the former Soviet republic of Georgia to further integrate with Europe and NATO. The U.S. is also renewing demands that Russia withdraw troops from disputed enclaves it now occupies there. The call comes amid growing tensions between Russia and the West over the ouster of a pro-Moscow president in Ukraine, another former Soviet republic.
Secretary of State John Kerry insisted Wednesday that U.S. policy toward the states that once made up the Soviet Union is not aimed at reducing Russia's influence in its neighborhood. Instead, he said it is driven by America's desire to see them succeed as robust democracies with strong economies.
Kerry said the U.S. supports Georgia's membership in NATO and wants to see it sign a partnership agreement with the European Union later this year.