Georgia Says Determined To Join NATO In Response to Russian Premier’s “Serious Consequences” Threat

Fuad Muxtarlı Analysis 7 August 2018
Georgia Says Determined To Join NATO In Response to Russian Premier’s “Serious Consequences” Threat

Georgia’s admission to NATO can provoke a potential conflict with Russia's involvement, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has said in an interview ahead of the 10th anniversary of the Russian-Georgian war. On the other hand, Georgian officials have given resounding rebuffs to the Russia’s position, saying Moscow remains a threat for Tbilisi and therefore, the aim is to get security guarantees.

"This can lead to a potential conflict, no doubt, because for us, Abkhazia and South Ossetia are independent states with which we have friendly relations and where we have our military bases. And we understand that if another country considers them as its territory, it may lead to very serious consequences," Medvedev said in an interview with Kommersant paper when answering a question whether there could be a potential conflict with Russia's participation if Georgia is admitted to NATO without Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

"I hope that the NATO leadership will be enough smart to do nothing in this direction," Medvedev said.

According to the Russian prime minister, "NATO expansion is an absolute threat to the Russian Federation." "And this is an unconditional challenge," he said.

Touching upon Georgia's intention to join NATO, Medvedev said: "This is an absolutely irresponsible position; it's just a threat to peace. We all understand that there is a certain tension on the territory of Georgia that it considers neighboring territories, or, in our view, states, as its own".

The prime minister drew attention to the fact that the country with an unsettled territorial conflict is going to be admitted to the military bloc. "It can provoke a terrible conflict. It's unclear why this should be done," Medvedev said.

At the same time, according to the Russian premier, this could be a diplomatic ploy, "a sort of” we'll accept you, do not worry", but in reality nothing will happen. "Let then our colleagues from the North Atlantic Alliance look around to think up something cleverer. It is possible, for example, admit also Kosovo to NATO. For example, it is possible for the Republic of Northern Cyprus to join the North Atlantic Alliance. Will this improve the situation in the world?" he questioned.

Dmitry Medvedev recalled how the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Treaty were destroyed, but NATO, which is trying to surround the Russian Federation from all sides, has been preserved.

"It's not whether someone likes or not the political leadership of Russia, it's not about some ideological principles or difference in values, but it's about simple things that are absolutely obvious to any ordinary person," the prime minister said.

Despite the fact that there are currently no two conflicting military blocs, as during the Warsaw Pact, Dmitry Medvedev noted, NATO continues to operate. "And NATO is not just continuing to exist, it is expanding and more and more countries are trying to involve in the North Atlantic alliance," he said.

Russia cannot be indifferent about this, the premier added, since no-one abolished nuclear parity in the world, "no one has canceled the fact that it is extremely important for military leaders to understand the relationship between the strategic nuclear forces of different states."

"And the NATO member states, no matter what our colleagues from this alliance say, still regard Russia as a potential enemy, and it is clear that their military capabilities, including the nuclear triad, are aimed at the Russian Federation," said Medvedev. Russia in this situation should understand what it is challenging.

"And when the circle around our country is being shrunk - and the number of countries that are members of NATO is increasing and increasing - this cannot but bother us, because in this case we are talking not only about strategic nuclear forces, but also on tactical nuclear weapons, which, when approaching the borders of the Russian Federation, acquires the quality of strategic nuclear weapons, as well as non-nuclear weapons, which at the moment, given their high-precision nature, are capable of causing a colossal damage," the prime minister explained.

Georgia’s reaction

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s statement that Georgia's accession to NATO could provoke a "terrible" conflict is a proof that Tbilisi has great progress in relations with the North Atlantic alliance, the chairman of the Georgian parliamentary committee on European integration, Tamar Khulordava, said on Monday.

"This rapprochement is irritating our northern neighbor, and this is precisely what we need to link these sharp statements from the Russian authorities to. We made our choice, this is the sovereign choice of the Georgian people. Our choice is democracy, stability, peace, strong institutions, and this can be achieved through European and Euro-Atlantic integration," she said.

In his turn, Georgia's presidential advisor Tengiz Phaladze said that Medvedev's words are a reaction to the recent NATO summit in Brussels.

"Russia is trying to develop a myth that Georgia's integration into NATO can be connected with destabilization of some kind. First, I will say that what this statement indicates and testifies to is that in Russia, especially after the NATO summit in Brussels, they are very serious about the prospects of Georgia's joining NATO, and I want to say that we, with our partners, will take advantage of all opportunities to make this prospect realistic as quickly as possible, and so that absolutely everyone can see that Georgia's accession to NATO is, we might say, the only guarantee for stability, security and future development of the region," Phaladze said.

Georgian deputy speaker Gia Volsky said that Tbilisi needs security guarantees, which, he said, Russia does not give to this country. "Our desire in terms of Euro-Atlantic integration is not directed against anyone. Georgia, a small country needs security guarantees. These security guarantees are not what Russia does not give, but, on the contrary, has done everything to ensure that we have had difficult external challenges," he said.

On July 12, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced that Georgia will join NATO. He noted that he was impressed by the reforms that Tbilisi has been carrying out recently.

Later, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Moscow would be extremely negative about the inclusion of Georgia and Ukraine into NATO. He stressed that the alliance can work with these countries in a bilateral format without taking them into their ranks. The Russian leader added that the deployment by the alliance of new military bases near the Russian borders does not help restore a trusting relationship.