Financial Times: Georgia’s President Warns Crisis Could Trigger Russian Aggression

Salome Zurabishvili’s comments reveal how the pandemic has created uncertainty in Georgia’s Black Sea region.

"Georgia’s president has warned that Russia’s struggle to contain the spread of coronavirus and an economic crisis compounded by an oil price collapse risks triggering new Kremlin aggression beyond its borders," reads the article published by Financial Times.

“Salome Zurabishvili, whose country lost a fifth of its territory to a 2008 invasion by Moscow, said history suggested internal problems in Russia tended to drive external belligerence rather than efforts to “revisit relations with its neighbors in a more co-operative manner”.

“The pandemic crisis and the oil crisis, and maybe the political situation, all of that could encourage Russia to be more aggressive to show some gains outside,” Ms Zurabishvili said in an interview with the Financial Times.

“As the president of Georgia, I can express the hope that this time it will not be the case, that maybe the crisis will show the Russian leadership that they can look in a different way to solve their problems.”

Her comments highlight how the pandemic has created new dynamics and uncertainties in Georgia’s Black Sea region, where Russia has built up its military presence and vies for influence with western countries and Turkey.

"Ms. Zurabishvili said she was disappointed the Kremlin had not taken the opportunity offered by the health emergency to scale back its deployment of missiles and radar in the disputed territory of Abkhazia, which has declared independence and has increasingly aligned itself with Moscow since the 2008 conflict. She said the health emergency had also created fresh risks in Russian-occupied areas because of Moscow’s lack of openness over its Covid-19 outbreak and its “absurd” restrictions on access for Georgian authorities to aid citizens in South Ossetia, which Russia invaded in 2008”, reads the article by Michael Peel and Ben Hall.

Source: The Financial Times 

Authors: Michael Peel, Ben Hall

Read the full article here 

Image: © Georgy Abdaladze/Presidential Press/AP

24 May 2020 12:25