08/17/2022, 10.09
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Kiev presses Tbilisi in conflict with Moscow

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Ukraine accuses Georgia of "doing business with the most questionable Russian companies" despite the experience of the 2008 war. Tbilisi government's response: "They are trying in every way to drag us into today's battle."

Tbilisi (AsiaNews) - The two "sister countries" bordering the Black Sea on either side of the Russian coast, Ukraine and Georgia, are also on opposite sides with respect to the catastrophic events of recent months. Ukraine is reminding the West of the analogy of the Russian invasion with the 2008 Russo-Georgian war, and calls on Tbilisi to take a clear stance on its geopolitical directives.

On the Georgian side, representatives of the ruling Georgian Dream party accuse the government in Kiev of acting against the interests of its own people by its rejection of any negotiations with Moscow, while also enlisting the support of many Western political sectors. However, Ukrainian President's advisor Mikhail Podoljak appealed to Georgia to decide whether to "support cannibals or freedom," prompting resentful Georgian reactions to accusations of collaborationism with the Russians.

Interviewed by the Georgian section of "Voice of America," Podoljak said "Ukraine is able to show evidence of Tbilisi's collaboration with Moscow, and will soon do so at the official level, through the foreign ministry.... Just look at the actions of private companies or other businesses at various levels, which we watch carefully, in the face of the sanctions regime now established internationally." Ukrainians insist that sanctions should also be applied to billionaire Bidzina Ivanisvili, the founder and hidden director of all the Georgian Dream choices, "and to all those who do cross business with the most questionable Russian companies."

Regarding Tbilisi's complaints that Kiev is trying in every way to drag Georgia into the war, Podoljak replied that "Georgia has already been involved in the war for a long time, just look at Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which are now criminal enclaves controlled by the Russians." These statements were responded to by the chairman of the Georgian parliament's legal committee, Anri Okhanasvili, who called the Ukrainian politician a "character hostile to Georgia, whose absurd statements are not worth dealing with."

A few days ago, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyj himself had recalled the 14th anniversary of the war between Russians and Georgians, urging the international community not to overlook the parallels with the events of 2022: "A lot of talk has been made about the premises and consequences of that war, and about the refusal in those years to grant Ukraine and Georgia a plan to join NATO, which encouraged Russia to act in an increasingly brazen manner. The war in the Caucasus has not passed into the archives, but it is still going on, so we need to talk about what is happening now, not just remember past events, and make the instruments for regional and international security effective."

Westerners also judge negatively the Georgian Dream's attempt to sit on two chairs. Beyond diplomatic skirmishes, military experts are quite explicit in their condemnation of Tbilisi's ambiguities, such as former commander of U.S. ground forces in Europe Ben Hodges, who says that Georgian society itself is divided, but "they need to clarify what they want: where do young people have the most opportunities? Do they want economic development, or back to Soviet conditions? I am convinced that Georgians want to be with Europe, and it is clear that Russia will do everything to prevent that."

Hodges believes that the West was under the illusion that Russia would live up to the commitments it signed in 2008, while 14 years later it is still occupying the Caucasian territories taken from Georgian sovereignty, and today to support Tbilisi it must be forced to make a clear choice of field, "not least because the window of opportunity will not remain open indefinitely."

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