Kyiv is calling on the Georgian Government to publicly distance itself from Russia’s decision to allow the import of Georgian milk and dairy products.
“We believe the promotion of trade relations with Russia, whose armed forces are attacking peaceful Ukrainian cities with missiles and bombs, killing innocent civilians, including children, to be unacceptable in the strongest terms,” the Ukrainian Foreign Ministry said on March 6.
The Foreign Ministry of Ukraine took a note that Russian decision came amid Georgian authorities’ “disinclination to support the new sanctions of the European Union against Russia.”
“The conduct of business with Russian companies provides Russia with additional resources to continue its atrocious war on Ukraine, and the profit thus earned is soaked in the blood of the murdered Ukrainian citizens,” the Ukrainian MFA stated.
The Ukrainian diplomatic service said while the “Georgian people are well aware of the horrors of war that Ukrainians are forced to go through now… it appears that the Georgian authorities must have forgotten all that and are now trying to seize the moment to cater for their own interests.”
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Russia’s Veterinary and Phytosanitary Supervision agency Rosselkhoznadzor permitted 15 Georgian companies to supply dairy products to Russia. Moscow also lifted trade restrictions from Turkey, China, Moldova, Serbia, Belarus and Azerbaijan, as it faces international sanctions over the full-scale invasion of Ukraine.
Reactions to Russia’s Decision in Tbilisi
Russia’s decision raised some eyebrows among the critics of the Georgian authorities, arguing the move came as the Kremlin’s reward to the GD government over their rejection of joining sanctions against Moscow.
Responding to the controversy, the Georgian National Food Agency noted on March 6 that the relevant negotiations with Moscow have been ongoing since 2020.
The agency further said it has been leading similar negotiations with multiple other countries, adding that a week ago such talks also yielded positive results with Saudi Arabia.
Reacting to Rosselkhoznadzor‘s decision, one of the largest Georgian dairy companies Sante GMT said they have no plans to export their products to the Russian market. It also noted the company is taking efforts to gather humanitarian aid for Ukraine.
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Soon after Russia invaded Ukraine, Georgia’s Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili ruled out joining western sanctions against Moscow, citing national interests and potential damage to Georgian producers.
The decision drew domestic criticism, including from President Salome Zurabishvili, but was promptly welcomed in Moscow.
On March 1, Ukraine recalled its Ambassador to Georgia over what it called the Georgian Dream government’s “immoral position” on these sanctions and for barring Georgian volunteers from flying to Ukraine.