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Georgian PM blames Russian invasion 'partly' on Ukraine's NATO aspirations

by The Kyiv Independent news desk May 30, 2023 3:40 PM 2 min read
Irakli Garibashvili, Georgia's prime minister, speaks during a session of the Qatar Economic Forum in Doha on May 24, 2023. (Photo: Christopher Pike/Bloomberg/Getty Images)
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Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili said that Russia's decision to launch a full-scale invasion in Ukraine was "partly" motivated by Ukraine's NATO aspirations.

"I don't want to speculate, I don't want to quote the statements of the Russian government. But one of the reasons was the desire of Ukraine to become a member of NATO. Therefore, we see the consequences," Garibashvili said during the 2023 Globsec forum in Bratislava.

Russian officials have long opposed Ukraine joining the military alliance, claiming that it would "weaken" Moscow.

As a result, the prospect of NATO expansion has been cited as an attempt to justify the Russian invasion of Ukraine, despite the fact that Russia has no control over the policy decisions of another sovereign nation.

Georgia has long sought NATO membership, while having around 20% of territory occupied by Russia.

The Russian invasion of Ukraine has also led to NATO's expansion, with once-neutral Finland officially joining the military alliance in early April. Sweden's membership bid is ongoing.

Several Georgian officials have raised concern in recent weeks regarding their comments on Russia.

Georgian Parliament Speaker Shalva Papuashvili said in an interview on May 29 that the prospect of restoring diplomatic relations with Russia was not a "policy of concessions" but rather a "strategic policy of patience."

"We are trying to avoid provocations and various threats, including those coming from Russia. We do not give anything to anyone, we do not bargain for anything ... Our main goal is the unification of the country and European integration. To achieve these goals, peace, and economic progress are essential," Papuashvili added.

Meanwhile, during an interview at the Qatar Economic Forum on May 24, Garibashvili voiced his opposition to any measures aimed at limiting or completely severing trade between Georgia and Russia, claiming that it would not significantly impact Russia's economy.

Figures from the Georgian National Statistics Office show that the trade turnover between Georgia and Russia reached $2.5 billion in 2022, making Russia one of Georgia's top trading partners, along with China and Azerbaijan.

Batu Kutelia: Lessons from Georgia of geopolitical procrastination
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in the op-ed section are those of the authors and do not purport to reflect the views of the Kyiv Independent. Feb. 24, 2022, was the date that Russia launched a decisive offensive against the free world. This war has caused a far-reaching domino effect
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