TBILISI, Georgia 

Georgia on Wednesday slammed the Russian parliament’s vote on recognizing the independence of Ukraine’s breakaway regions of Donetsk and Luhansk.

Russia’s State Duma, the lower chamber of parliament, on Tuesday approved a proposal calling on President Vladimir Putin to recognize Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states.

David Zalkaliani, Georgia’s deputy prime minister and foreign minister, said the Russian parliament’s move was “disturbing.”

“Georgia condemns this action. We once again express our solidarity and concrete support to the brotherly people of Ukraine in the struggle for freedom,” he said at an event organized by the Ukrainian Embassy in Tbilisi to mark Ukraine’s Day of Unity.

“We are always with you because we know very well the price of freedom and fighting for it,” he said.

Zalkaliani recalled that Russia attacked Georgia in 2008, occupying about 20% of its territory and rendering hundreds of thousands of people refugees in their own land.

“Our brotherly Ukraine is going through the same ordeal today,” he said.

Zalkaliani stressed that no third country has the right to interfere in internal affairs of Georgia and Ukraine.

“No one has the right to forbid free countries from choosing their own paths, friends and alliances,” he said.

As tensions between Moscow and Kyiv have soared in recent months, Western countries led by the US have warned of an imminent Russian invasion.

Kyiv, the US and its allies raised alarms by accusing Russia of amassing more than 100,000 troops near its border with Ukraine.

Moscow has repeatedly denied it is preparing to attack its ex-Soviet neighbor, saying its troops were there for exercises.

On Tuesday, Russia announced that some of its troops were returning to bases after completing their training drills.

Moscow has also denounced Western countries for undermining its security through NATO’s expansion towards its borders.

Russia issued a list of security demands to the West, including a rollback of troop deployments from some ex-Soviet states and guarantees that some of those states would not join NATO.

In a written response to those demands, Washington said it is committed to upholding NATO’s “open-door policy,” while NATO said its stance was “parallel with the United States.”

* Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev in Ankara

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