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President Zelenskyy on Relations with Georgian Government

President Volodymyr Zelenskyy has said while Georgians are one of the closest peoples to Ukrainians, he fails to understand the stance of the Georgian leaders amid Russia’s war in Ukraine.

The Ukrainian President took note that Georgians have supported Ukrainians already during the Maidan revolution, continued with the ongoing support by providing volunteer and humanitarian assistance.

He also underscored that Georgians are fighting on the side of Ukraine and had expressed their solidarity with Ukraine in the streets of Tbilisi.

“I will say frankly: we are truly fraternal nations, but I do not understand the position of the leaders of your state. That’s why I perceive it bitterly,” President Zelenskyy responded to a Georgian journalist during a press conference with Ukrainian and international media in Kyiv on April 23.

The Ukrainian leader continued: “I don’t understand why sanctions are not imposed. I have heard the message ‘we must protect our economy.’ What economy? They [Russians] have already taken part of the territory of Georgia, almost reached Tbilisi.”

“We have a war with Russia, and we definitely do not want conflicts with Georgia. I am sure we will never have conflicts…” Zelenskyy went on, adding that “We will definitely return the ambassador to friendly Georgia as soon as we feel the support of Ukraine from your government.”

The relations between Tbilisi and Kyiv have strained somewhat after Moscow launched full-scale attack against Ukraine on February 24.

Kyiv expressed disappointment as the Georgian Government refused to impose economic sanctions on Russia, and barred a flight from that aimed to carry volunteer fighters from Tbilisi to Ukraine. Zelenskyy then recalled his Ambassador from Tbilisi, citing “immoral position” of PM Irakli Garibashvili’s cabinet.

Tbilisi, however, maintained it remains in solidarity with Ukraine, stressing that it has supported Ukraine on diplomatic front in UN, OSCE and other international platforms, and that it provided humanitarian assistance.

In another controversy, Ukraine also accused Tbilisi of aiding Russian smuggling, a claim denied by the Georgian authorities, that had asked Ukraine to present evidence. The Georgian Government said they are not helping Russia evade sanctions.

In turn, Tbilisi accused the authorities in Ukraine, in particular former United National Movement officials currently serving for the Ukrainian leadership, of attempts to stage hybrid war against Georgia.

On April 11, the ruling Georgian Dream party unveiled the list of issues Tbilisi wanted to see solved for them to pay high-level visit to Kyiv, namely, the return of the ambassador to Georgia, rebuffing smuggling allegations and barring Georgia’s “radical opposition leaders being represented at a high level in the Ukrainian Government.”

In a rare sign of warming of relations, Georgian cross-party parliamentary delegation led by Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili traveled on April 16 to the towns of Bucha and Irpin northwest of Kyiv, that  saw egregious crimes during weeks-long Russian occupation.

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