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At Contact Line In Georgia, Poroshenko Sees 'Abyss' Between Past And Future


Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko has visited the line separating government-held and separatist-controlled territory in Georgia, calling it an "abyss between the past and the future."

The July 19 trip to the boundary with breakaway South Ossetia came during a two-day visit to Georgia, which like Ukraine has faced Russian military aggression and other forms of pressure in recent years.

Poroshenko and Georgian President Giorgi Margvelashvili used binoculars to observe a Russian military base on the South Ossetia side of the line.

Poroshenko likened the line to an "abyss" between a Russian-dominated past and a more hopeful future.

"What we see from the side of the abyss is what the Russian Federation has done," Poroshenko said. "Look into the eyes of these people -- tears, humanitarian catastrophe."

"We see a situation where people do not have basic rights to medical care, to a school for their children, to a livelihood, and most important: They have no hope that there will be any progress as long as there is a Russian Federation," Poroshenko said.

He said that for Kyiv "it is a huge motivation to reestablish territorial integrity of both Ukraine and Georgia."

Kyiv says Moscow has sent thousands of troops into eastern Ukraine, where a war between government forces and the separatists has killed more than 10,000 people since April 2014.

In March 2014, Russia seized control of the Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula after sending in troops and staging a referendum seen as illegitimate by most countries.

Russia has maintained thousands of troops in South Ossetia and another breakaway Georgian region, Abkhazia, after recognizing them as independent following its five-day war with Tbilisi in 2008.

In Tbilisi on July 18, Margvelashvili and Poroshenko issued a declaration on what they called a strategic partnership.

"We agreed to intensify our efforts in terms of integration into the European space," Margvelashvili said.

Poroshenko said that Georgia and Ukraine "have to defend our sovereignty, territorial integrity, and democracy together."

Poroshenko was wrapping up his visit by opening a Georgian-Ukrainian investment forum in the Black Sea port city of Batumi along with Margvelashvili on July 19.

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