During her visit to France, President Salome Zurabishvili spoke to Radio France Inter about the ongoing war in Ukraine and the entry of Russian citizens into Georgia.
Ongoing war in Ukraine
“This is a turning point. The direction of the war has changed,” President Zurabishvili said in response to the withdrawal of Russian troops from the occupied city of Kherson, stressing that this marked the beginning of Russia’s defeat.
The president noted that right at the start of the war, Russia miscalculated about Ukraine and about the internal solidarity that arose as a reaction from America and Europe, “and still miscalculates that it’s possible to create an impression with that.” leaving on Ukraine or the world a nuclear threat from another time.”
Asked whether one should expect the EU to waver in its solidarity with Ukraine if the war were prolonged, particularly given the economic and energy consequences of the war, President Zurabishvili replied that Russia expected it, but “it did that doesn’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 it did not happen so radically,” she said, adding that “the complete split that the Russian Government expected It didn’t happen, none of their expectations were met.”
President Zurabishvili also noted that at this point everything is clear and “Europe’s reorientation towards greater energy independence is now final”. “Everyone has learned that you cannot rely on a non-democratic country. It’s a great lesson that everyone learned thanks to Ukraine,” she said.
The President of Georgia also stressed Georgia’s support for Ukraine, stressing that Georgians are “completely on the side of Ukraine”. “We have joined the international financial sanctions fully and with great enthusiasm,” she said.
In this regard, President Zurabishvili recalled the Pro-Ukraine protests in Georgia and stated that “there is no doubt, when it is necessary, people take to the streets.”
“If you come to Georgia, you will see that the walls are covered with Ukrainian flags and slogans [Vladimir] Putin wouldn’t like that,” she said.
When asked by a journalist – “What about the Georgian government?” – President Zurabishvili replied: “You are trying to be careful, more careful than me, I am very clear in my support for Ukraine!”
“There is a difference between me and the government that believes, and that is their decision, that more cautious rhetoric is needed in order not to draw Russia’s additional anger,” the president noted, adding that she didn’t want the caution share .
While the President stressed that she shared the position, which “is strategically very important for the European Union, [and] the international community not to draw a border between Ukraine, Moldova and Georgia.” “Russia must not believe that tomorrow after the humiliating defeat in Ukraine 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 concerns Ukraine in terms of solidarity and support, tomorrow should also concern Georgia,” noted President Zurabishvili, stressing that this is her “main message”.
Russians enter Georgia
Regarding the entry of Russian citizens to Georgia since the Russian invasion of Ukraine, President Zurabishvili stated that according to their information, more than 700 thousand Russians crossed the Georgian border, of which more than 600 thousand left while 100 thousand stayed.
Noting that this took place without “significant incidents,” the president stressed that these are Russians who “do not want to share Russia’s fate 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 work, some have arrived with some money,” she said.
When asked by a journalist – “Why did Vladimir Putin allow this?” – President Zurabishvili replied: “Initially he assumed that this would weaken the popular reaction, 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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ქართული (Georgian) Русский (Russian)