Georgia keeps close eye on Russia-Ukraine developments
By Misha Vignanski
Tbilisi, Feb 19 (EFE).- The Caucasus republic of Georgia is closely monitoring the stand-off between Russia and Ukraine but remains committed to its European Union and Nato aspirations.
“Our path to Europe is not easy,” the office of president Salome Zourabichvili told Efe. “But we know it is a realistic path. Not only because it is in our constitution, but because there is no alternative.”
Following its defeat in the 2008 Russo-Georgian war, which ended with Russia’s recognition of the breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia territories, Tbilisi severed relations with Moscow and in 2017 wrote its EU and Nato aspirations into its constitution as a priority.
“In the context of growing military aggression from Russia, Nato’s firm open-door policy has a lot of importance for us,” Georgian defense minister Juansher Burchuladze told Efe.
Russia has vowed to respond with “technical-military” measures if Nato does not heed Moscow’s demand to halt its path to include former Soviet states.
Burchuladze added that Georgia continues to strengthen its defensive capabilities in cooperation with Nato, adding that the country was due to host the NATO-GEO EX 2022 drills, with the participation of 20 armies and associate nations in March.
Vakhtang Maisaia, a military expert at the Caucasus University in Tbilisi, maintains that Ukraine and Georgia have been in the same boat since Nato opened its doors to the two nations in 2008.
“We’re not under any illusions: At some moment Russia will turn against Georgia again. This could begin with the demand to ‘end anti-Russian hysteria’ and culminate with an ultimatum to ‘change (Georgia’s) internal politics,” he told Efe.
Russia was currently focused on Ukraine, but it has not forgotten about Georgia, he added.
“We have to prepare ourselves for a new confrontation,” he warned. “Russia regularly carries out military drills in the occupied regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia to intimidate Georgia.”
Maisaia said such drills were a reminder from Russia that, since the end of the Russo-Georgian war in 2008, it has had military units just a few dozen kilometers from Georgia’s capital.
“Russia has never put an end to its hybrid war against Georgia, which is demonstrated by cyberattacks and attempts to create pro-Russian parties and movements in the country.”EFE