Sword Dance – Russian-Georgian Relations

Sword Dance – Russian-Georgian Relations

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A burnt shashlyk [a dish of skewered and grilled cubes of meat, similar to or synonymous with shish kebab] which evokes no appetite but pity to throw it away is what that comes to mind when one tries to characterize relations between Russia and Georgia.

Russia and Georgia have had no diplomatic relations since 2008. The Russian Federation is represented by Switzerland in Georgia. The Swiss Embassy has a section of the interests of the Russian Federation.

However, this is the level of diplomacy but there are other relations in real life. Primarily, economic ones. The latest news is that Georgia lost to the Russian energy company Inter RAO in the Stockholm arbitration.

The Arbitration Court of Stockholm obliged the Georgian authorities to pay compensation to Inter RAO in the amount of $80.5 million while the plaintiff demanded $200 million.

Inter RAO sued for compensation because Tbilisi’s authorities did not raise utility rates in 2014 after the collapse of the Georgian lari exchange rate.

Although the Georgians are ostentatiously promising to challenge the decision in appeal, it is nothing more than milling the wind and verbal gymnastics. International commercial arbitration is a special procedure of legal proceedings between two parties in a financial and economic dispute. The decisions of international commercial arbitration are final, binding and unappealable.

Hot-debated, full-of-conflicts topics are the main information agenda that illustrate the relations between Russia and Georgia. For example, Russia was depicted quite negatively in the speech of the former President of Georgia Mikhail Saakashvili at the court. As typical for pro-Western politicians and activists, Saakashvili predictably saw the “hand of the Kremlin” in the story of his trip to Georgia and his subsequent arrests.

“Did I become the first leader of Georgia since Czar Luarsabe to be imprisoned?! This is the greatest disgrace to anyone involved. This is the biggest humiliation we have experienced... I don't believe they are Georgians. This is a classic move of Russia,’ said the former president.

In addition, Saakashvili suggested that his official wife Sandra Roelofs be tried with him, saying that he would love to be placed in the dock with her. Corruption is one of Saakashvili's charges. He is accused of illegally spending about 2.5 million euros on cosmetic surgeries.

“Why aren't you prosecuting Sandra?” he asked. “I would love to be next to her in the dock today because a quarter or a fifth of this money is spent on her,” Saakashvili said.

Is he framing his wife, putting blame on her? Very manly.

However, not only Saakashvili is accused of causing financial damage. His friends and former partners around the world again have again attracted the attention of law-enforcers. Former head of the military police Megis Kardava was extradited from Ukraine to Georgia. Gigi Ugulava was fined for insulting police officers. Anton Babutsidze was found guilty of fraud.

Georgia’s and Ukraine’s relations with NATO are another important topic for Russia. As recently as December 1, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said that Georgia and Ukraine were close partners of the North Atlantic Alliance (so close that they did not get the minimum status which is the main partner of the United States outside NATO, although Afghanistan, for example, is major non-NATO ally).

They are very close partners on paper but if anything happens, Georgia had better protect itself with its own forces. The implication is that Georgia will have to defend from Russia. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov commented on Stoltenberg's words. He called the decision of the NATO Bucharest summit of 2008, where Georgia and Ukraine were promised that they would be accepted into the North Atlantic Alliance, a mine for the European security structure.

“The decision of the NATO Bucharest Summit of April 2008 that Georgia and Ukraine will become NATO members is a mine in the very foundation of the European security structure,” Lavrov said at a meeting of the OSCE Council of Foreign Ministers.

Of course, there are economic relations between Russia and Georgia. Thus, according to estimates of the National Statistics Service of Georgia, the trade turnover between the two countries increased by 22.4% in January-October compared to the same period in 2020. The trade turnover totaled $1.1 billion, with Georgian exports to Russia growing by 38.1% and Russian imports by 14.1%.

Therefore, despite the lack of diplomatic missions and political barriers, life goes on.

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