Cheney's brief stop in Georgia, part of a swing through former Soviet republics that included Azerbaijan and Ukraine, signaled the tougher branch of the two-pronged US approach. "America will do its duty to work with the governments of Georgia and our other friends and allies to protect our common interests and to uphold our values," the vice president said in Tblisi.
Cheney also made special note of Georgia's willingness to send troops to Iraq. But in Washington, US officials emphasized that the aid package includes no military assistance. In announcing the new assistance, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice appeared to carefully choose her words when she said the aid was meant to "help Georgia sustain itself" – rather than to defend itself.
"It's an appropriate and realistic response to the situation in that the US is a close ally of Georgia … and wants to ensure that Georgia reemerges from this conflict as a stable and viable state," says Charles Kupchan, a specialist in European affairs at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. "The objective is to ensure that Georgia doesn't collapse and end up a ward of Russia."
Still, others see the US position as an attempt to return Europe's geopolitical map to where it was before the Georgia-Russia conflict – an approach that is unlikely to succeed because it fails to come to grips with the challenge of an emboldened Russia.