Peston: Georgian President declares ‘readiness’ to join NATO in fresh blow to Putin

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Georgia has been assured admittance to NATO in the future after the country created closer ties to the defence alliance in an attempt to accelerate their application after the Rose Revolution in 2003. Speaking to host Robert Peston, President Salome Zourabichvili expressed her nation’s readiness and preparedness to join the alliance in the wake of the conflict in Ukraine and previous conflicts in the country.

However, President Zourabichvili said: “I’m not sure that it is the case for NATO, unless tomorrow there are some new statements and new readiness from the NATO members to accelerate our North Atlantic integration, but certainly we are ready.

“We are preparing for that, and we will be ready to accelerate the path in whatever direction there will be readiness on the part of our partners to receive us.”

President Putin has previously warned both Ukraine and Georgia against making applications to join the NATO alliance, threatening conflict such as in Ukraine in the event of an application.

The Russian President is seemingly testing his level of control over the two former Soviet nations, evidenced by the sudden invasion of Ukraine.

Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili stated during the escalation of tensions between Russia and Ukraine that the country would not join allies in imposing sanctions on Russia.

The PM said: “I want to state clearly and unambiguously, considering our national interests and interests of the people, Georgia does not plan to participate in the financial and economic sanctions, as this would only damage our country and populace more.”

In response to such actions, within the first few days of the conflict, President Zelensky recalled Ukraine’s ambassador from Georgia.

He said it was due to “the creation [by Georgian officials] of obstacles for those volunteers who want to help us, and for holding an immoral position regarding sanctions [against Russia].”

Peston host, Robert Peston said: “From the outside it certainly looks as though you as President have been much more critical of Putin, much more in favour of punishing Russia through sanctions than your Prime Minister. Is that correct?”

The Georgian President replied: “Well there might be differences of wordings but I don’t think that one expects Georgia to be the one punishing Russia as you said with sanctions because our means to punish Russia are quite limited.

“As you know we do not have diplomatic relations since the 2008 war, we do not have flights with Russia, we are not that dependent on Russian energy, it’s limited, our main provider is Azerbaijan.”

She continued: “We are receiving wheat from Russia, but that’s not under sanctions and our financial sector, our banks are fully following the financial sanctions. We are completely there in line with our partners, so I think we are doing the utmost.”

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“Our main cost that we are taking in all of that is the fact that we already have occupied territories and those two occupied regions are clearly a matter of concern and not only for us.”

Speaking on the conflict history of Georgia and Ukraine, Ms Zourabichvili noted the level of sensitivity in Georgia with Russian media and troops merely 40 kilometres from the capital city.

She concluded that from this, Georgia knows “what it means and we are on the same line as Ukraine.”

Criticised the lack of response from the West in 2008 and 2014.

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