President Zurabishvili Talks Ukraine War, Russians in Georgia

During her visit to France, President Salome Zurabishvili discussed the ongoing war in Ukraine and the entry of Russian citizens into Georgia in an interview with Radio France Inter.

Ongoing War in Ukraine

“This is a turning point. The direction of the war has changed,” President Zurabishvili stated in response to the withdrawal of Russian troops from the occupied city of Kherson while emphasizing that it marked the beginning of Russia’s defeat.

The President noted that Russia made miscalculations at the very beginning of the war about Ukraine, as well as the internal solidarity that emerged in response from America and Europe, “and still miscalculates that it is possible to make an impression on Ukraine or the world with a nuclear threat, which is from another era.”

Asked about whether one should expect the EU to waver in its solidarity for Ukraine if the war is prolonged, particularly in light of the economic and energy consequences of the war, President Zurabishvili answered that Russia was counting on that being the case but “it didn’t happen like that.”

“[Russia] also thought that the European population, accustomed to comfort, would rebel against the authorities and their sanctions, which cost the population dearly, but this did not happen so radically,” she said, adding that “the complete split, which the Russian government expected, did not happen, none of their expectations were fulfilled.”

President Zurabishvili also noted that at this time, everything is clear, and “Europe’s reorientation towards greater energy independence is now final.” “Everyone has learned that you cannot depend on a non-democratic country. This is a great lesson that everyone has learned, thanks to Ukraine,” she underscored.

The Georgian President emphasized Georgia’s support for Ukraine as well and highlighted that Georgians are “completely on the side of Ukraine.” “We fully and with great enthusiasm joined the international financial sanctions,” she said.

In that context, President Zurabishvili recalled the pro-Ukraine protests in Georgia and stated that “there is no doubt about it, whenever there is a need, people take to the streets.”

“If you come to Georgia, you will see that the walls are covered with Ukrainian flags and slogans that [Vladimir] Putin would not like,” she said.

To a journalist’s question – “what about the Georgian government?” – President Zurabishvili retorted, “they are trying to be careful, more careful than me, I am very expressive in my support for Ukraine!”

“There is a difference between me and the government, which believes, and this is its decision, that a more cautious rhetoric is needed, so as not to attract Russia’s additional anger,” the President noted and added that she does not share the caution.

The President did emphasize that she shares the viewpoint, which is “strategically very important for the European Union, [and] the international community, to not draw a line between Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia.” “Russia must not think that tomorrow, following the defeat in Ukraine, which will be humiliating for it, it will be able to restore its integrity in Georgia,” she stressed.

“It must be understood that we are in the same basket, and what affects Ukraine in terms of solidarity and support should also affect Georgia tomorrow,” President Zurabishvili remarked, stressing that this is her “main message.”

Russians Entering Georgia

Speaking about the entry of Russian citizens into Georgia since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, President Zurabishvili stated that in accordance with her information, more than 700,000 Russians crossed Georgia’s border, of which more than 600,000 left, while 100,000 have remained.

Noting that this took place without “significant incidents,” the President underscored that these are Russians who “do not want to share the fate of Russia in Putin’s war, they do not want to mobilize.”

According to the President, these are middle-class, educated young people, many of whom are employed in the field of internet technologies. “They are working, some have arrived with some funds,” she said.

To a journalist’s question – “Why did Vladimir Putin allow this?” – President Zurabishvili answered, “Initially, he assumed that it would weaken the reaction of the population, especially in Moscow, where the [military] mobilization caused great dissatisfaction.”

“I’ll say it again, he miscalculates everything and makes bad decisions. According to his views,” she added.

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This post is also available in: ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)


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