TBLISI, Georgia 

Protesters held a rally Sunday in Georgia’s capital calling on the government to send a clear message of solidarity with Ukraine amid heightened tensions between Kyiv and Moscow.

The demonstrators, carrying Ukrainian, Georgian, European Union and NATO flags, gathered in front of the Ukrainian Embassy in the capital Tbilisi.

Chanting slogans against Russia such as “Stop Russia” and “Long live the friendship of Georgia and Ukraine,” they announced their support for Ukraine.

Representatives of opposition parties and Ukrainians living in Georgia also took part in the rally.

The demonstrators noted that Russia occupied Ossetia in Georgia and Crimea in Ukraine, adding the two countries have similar problems regarding territorial integrity.

Tbilisi fought a five-day war with Russia in 2008 over Georgia’s breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. Georgia lost control of both areas and Russia later recognized both South Ossetia and Abkhazia as independent states.

Speaking at the beginning of the rally, Georgia’s former ambassador to the US, Batu Kutelia, said Ukraine is Georgia’s strategic partner and its brother country.

Noting that the Georgian people are in solidarity with Ukraine, Kutelia said that even the Soviet Union collapsed with the solidarity of the West.

“Solidarity is a very powerful weapon,” he added.

Russia annexed Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula in 2014 in a move that has never received international recognition and which has been decried as illegal under international law.

Russia recently amassed tens of thousands of troops near Ukraine’s eastern border, prompting fears that the Kremlin could be planning another military offensive against its former Soviet neighbor.

Moscow has denied that it is preparing to invade and said its troops are there for exercises.

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