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Possible threat from Russia

By Messenger Staff
Friday, May 23
On June 27, 2014, Georgia and Moldova are set to sign the association agreement with the European Union. Politicians, analysts and journalists keep speaking in Georgia that there might be provocations and pressure from the Russian side.

The developments in Ukraine give extra arguments on this issue. What will happen cannot be predicted, but everybody expresses concern that something might happen. Western officials also openly suggest the possibility of complications. Recently, NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen made an alarming statement about Russia’s presumable pressure on Georgia. He also stressed that NATO should be prepared for any such threats.

“In general, my assessments are based on experience. We have already seen Russia put pressure on its neighboring countries that want to join the European Union. I think we will see the same picture as Georgia and Moldova will sign the association agreement in the near future. Obviously, we do not know what kind of pressure will be exerted by Russia, this might be the natural gas price, gas supply or attempts to use Transdnistria, South Ossetia and Abkhazia in order to destabilize the situations in its neighboring countries…” Rasmussen said.

Rasmussen did not identify exactly the possible steps that Russia might take to undermine the situation either in Moldova or in Georgia.

However, there are some controversies in the statements of Western leaders. For instance, President of the European Commission Jose Manuel Barroso told Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili that Russian President Vladimir Putin promised that he would not hinder Georgia’s negotiations about the AA.

The politicians and analysts agree that in general Russia is unpredictable. Therefore, any promises made by President Putin could be altered any time. For example, Russia was among the countries which were guarantors of Ukraine’s territorial integrity when it gave up its nuclear potential.

However, just around twenty years later from this commitment Russia has snatched Crimea from Ukraine, with the later explanation that Russia’s commitment was not actually ever confirmed by the Russian parliament. And afterwards Putin stated that he would not hinder the negotiations with the EU.

Putin and his closest advisors have stated many times that Moscow is absolutely against Georgia’s integration into NATO. However, they did not say the same in terms of the association agreement with the EU.

Russia does not like the idea of NATO expansion in the East and, presumably, it could take the EU association agreement to be a prelude for Georgia entering NATO. Analysts and journalists have mentioned that Russian occupation forces in Abkhazia and South Ossetia have recently become more active and therefore more aggressive. There are certainly activities that have been noticed in the southern part of Georgia, inhabited by ethnic Armenians. The Georgian authorities claim that they will do their best to keep calm and won’t give Moscow any reason to unleash any kind of military confrontation. Meanwhile, Georgia is having local elections in June 15 and is being confronted by other domestic problems.