The UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly is on a two-day visit to Moldova and Georgia to announce new funding to "boost regional resilience against Russian malign interference".
In a press release from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office issued on Thursday (16 March), the UK Government said they will "underline support for territorial integrity and sovereignty as part of work with Russia’s neighbours to deal with the threat on their doorstep.
They added that funding will support governance reforms, fair elections, and anti-corruption programmes.
"We must reinforce their resilience to Russia’s hybrid threats"
First visiting the Moldovan capital of Chisinau on Thursday, Cleverly announced an extra £10 million (€11.4 million) to support economic and governance reforms in Moldova. This new pledge comes on top of £12 million already contributing to military reforms, and anti-corruption and transparency work in the country.
Speaking in a news conference alongside his counterpart Nicu Popescu in Chisinau, Cleverly said: "You are not alone, we, together with international partners will help the Republic of Moldova to face this unprecedented, brutal war on your doorstep... with the exception of Ukraine, no other country has felt the impact of Putin’s cruel war more deeply than Moldova."
On his part Nicu Popescu said that the UK's financial support for Moldova shows they "have strong friends and we enjoy their steadfast support."
"We continue to be unwavering in our support for your sovereignty and territorial integrity"
Visiting the Georgian capital of Tbilisi one day later, on Friday (17 March), Cleverly announced a £500,000 package aimed at creating an environment for free and fair elections in 2024, protecting them from external interference.
Speaking in a news conference alongside his Georgian counterpart Ilia Darchiashvili, Cleverly said that the UK continues "to be unwavering in our support for your sovereignty and territorial integrity".
He added that, "just as in Ukraine, the sovereign right of the Georgian people to determine their own future...and destiny, independent of external interference, must be respected, and must be defended."
Responding to Cleverly's arrival on Twitter, Georgian Foreign Minister Ilia Darchiashvili said, "While displaying mesmerizing views of night Tbilisi to my colleague, I had an opportunity to discuss a set of themes of Georgia and United Kingdom bilateral agenda with him. I’m sure, this visit will contribute to broadening cooperation between two countries."
During his visit, James Cleverly will also meet the Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, and the occupation line to learn about the current situation on the ground.