By Justin Sink - 02/24/14 05:22 PM EST
President Obama and Vice President Biden met Monday with Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili in a move that could disrupt already fragile relations with Moscow amid the constitutional crisis gripping Ukraine.
Obama spoke with Garibashvili for just around 20 minutes, and applauded Georgia on its first successful democratic transfer of power, the White House said.
The vice president also plans to meet next Monday with Prime Minister Iurie Leanca of Moldova, another former Soviet bloc country that has in recent years looked for greater integration with Europe and the West.
There, protesters flooded the streets following President Viktor Yanukovych's decision to accept a bailout from Moscow over a trade deal with the E.U. Government attempts to disrupt the demonstrations, which gripped the streets of Kiev, were rebuffed in violent fighting, and Yanukovych has fled the capitol city to hole up on the Eastern border with Russia.
"Our support for Georgia, Moldova, and Ukraine is not some zero-sum game with Russia," a senior administration official said.
The official said that in meetings with Russian diplomats, the U.S. had stressed those nations could continue to work with Moscow.
"They've chosen a European path, but we do not believe that their choice of a European path should preclude productive relations with Moscow," the official said.
The official also said that the pivot to Europe was "the actions of the citizens of these countries," not a Western campaign.
A senior adviser to Putin has accused the U.S. of meddling in Ukraine, which would be a violation of a 1994 agreement over non-intervention. Russian economist Sergei Glazyev accused the U.S. of spending $20 million to fund Ukranian opposition groups earlier this month, according to the BBC.
The meetings between American leaders and those from Georgia and Moldova will likely elicit more charges of interference from the Kremlin.