What is the purpose of the US Secretary of Defense’s visit to the Black Sea region?

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US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has arrived in Georgia on the first leg of a meeting with three of his allies in the Black Sea region. The purpose of his visit is to convey the message of US cooperation against the threat posed by Russia.
Lloyd Austin is the first Pentagon chief to visit Georgia since 2014, according to AFP. During the visit, he will try to renew the US military training program in Georgia and assure US cooperation. Georgia is a country that has been trying to become a full member of NATO for years.
Lloyd Austin also wants to thank his three allies, Ukraine, Georgia and Romania, for their role in the two-decade-long war in Afghanistan.
The Secretary of Defense will visit the three countries before attending the NATO summit in Brussels on October 21 and 22.
Ahead of the visit, a senior US defense official told reporters that “we are reassuring and strengthening the sovereignty of countries that are under Russian aggression.”
Georgia, Romania and Ukraine fall within NATO territory. Romania is a full member of NATO, while Georgia and Ukraine are NATO partners.
All three countries are located on the shores of the Black Sea, where Russia is trying to establish its influence and prevent the expansion of the US-European Union, and NATO.
Russia has occupied Ukraine’s Crimea region and has deployed troops in Georgia’s Abkhazia region and South Ossetia. Ukraine is battling pro-Russian separatists in eastern Kiev. The conflict has claimed 13,000 lives.
In June, Russian troops threatened Dutch and British warships passing near Crimea.
In Lloyd Austin, Georgia, he will meet with Prime Minister Erkley Garibashvili and Defense Minister Joannes Burchholdze. The purpose of the meeting will be to maintain defense cooperation as the three-year US military training program expires this year.
In Georgia, it is hoped that Lloyd Austin’s visit will increase his chances of becoming a full member of NATO.
Georgia’s Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani said Wednesday that the visit would be “another clear message from the United States to Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, stable and democratic development, and the country’s goal of the Euro-Atlantic.”
In Ukraine, the Secretary of Defense will hold talks with President Vladimir Zelensky and Secretary of Defense Andrei Taryn. The Ukrainian president and defense minister visited Washington in early September to discuss with President Joe Biden his NATO membership.
The political crisis in Romania continues, during which the US Secretary of Defense will meet with President Klaus Johannes and Secretary of Defense Nikolai Sica.
The United States wants to increase defense cooperation in all three countries. However, the United States is also seeing democratic development and corruption in these countries.
Thousands of Georgia protesters took to the streets this week to protest the arrest of former president and opposition leader Mikhail Saakashvili.
Ukraine is under intense pressure from the West to provide aid to end corruption.

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