The West is taking its anti-Russian campaign to a new level by threatening Russia’s neighbor Georgia against resuming flights to Russia. The warning to Georgia comes at a time when Russia is advancing into areas occupied by Ukraine in territories that have voted to join Russia.
US State Department’s Warning to Georgia
Georgia Today reported on Friday (February 03, 2023) that the US State Department has warned Georgia against resuming flights to Russia. The State Department threatened sanctions on companies at Georgian airports should Georgia decide to restore air travel to Russia. The department’s statement added:
“The entire Western community has distanced itself from this brutal regime – now is not the time to increase engagement with Russia.”
This direct warning from the United States comes after Georgian politician Irakli Kobakhidze, Chairman of the Georgian Dream party, expressed interest in resuming direct flights to Russia last month. Georgian President Salome Zurabishvili did not entertain the idea.
EU’s Warning on Flights to Russia
The European Union (EU) followed America’s warning to Georgia with its own on Sunday. As reported in Euro Weekly News, EU representative Peter Stano called on Georgia to follow the aviation sanctions against Russia as introduced by the EU authorities. Stano’s statement says:
“The EU calls on Georgia to join the sanctions imposed by the EU and other countries against Russia in the aviation sector and remain vigilant against any possible attempts to circumvent the sanctions.”
The Pressure on Georgia
Russia Today wrote that the EU currently has some leverage on Georgia as it remains an applicant for EU membership. The story noted that Russia suspended air travel with Georgia in 2019 after “a mob of nationalists and pro-Westerners” tried to storm the capitol where Russian lawmaker Sergey Gavrilov was giving a speech. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was cited in the story on Georgia’s willingness to resume flights to Russia:
“The fact that a small country and its government has the courage to say that they will be guided by their own interests … that inspires respect.”
The story also added that Georgia’s pro-West President Salome Zurabishvili accused Moscow of “attempting to drive a wedge between her country and the West.”