Georgia Aids Russian Smuggling, Ukraine Claims
Ukraine’s Defense Ministry Intelligence claimed today that Moscow is establishing a channel for smuggling through the Georgian territory.
According to them: “With the imposition of international sanctions, the Russian Federation has lost the ability to supply a large range of military and civilian goods … to circumvent the sanctions, Russian agents set up smuggling channels, which pass, in particular, on Georgian territory.”
“At the same time, representatives of the Georgian security services were instructed by the political leadership not to interfere with the activities of the smugglers” said the Ukrainian military intelligence.
As per the same statement, the possibility of resumption of air traffic between Georgia and Russia, halted by Vladimir Putin since June 2019 over the anti-occupation protests in Tbilisi, is also being considered.
The Government of Georgia denies all these accusations. The Ministry of Finance of Georgia made a statement that “this is a completely baseless and absurd accusation”.
According to the Ministry, “From the very first days of the imposition of sanctions by the international community on the Russian Federation, Georgia has been exercising strict control over all customs checkpoints in the country and has been monitoring incoming and outgoing cargo.”
No Mention of Russia, as Tbilisi Condemns Bucha Massacre
Georgia’s Parliament Chairperson Shalva Papuashvili, then Minister of Foreign Affairs David Zalkaliani and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs have condemned atrocities in Bucha, Ukraine, without specifically naming Russia as the perpetrator.
“Shocked by horrible atrocities in Bucha and other places of Ukraine. Reminded me of brutal crimes against peaceful civilians in Abkhazia in the early 1990s and Tskhinvali region in 2008,” Speaker of the Parliamen – Shalva Papuashvili tweeted on April 3.
“We strongly condemn the [Bucha Massacre and] inhumanity directed against innocent civilians. We are devastated by the scenes of brutal atrocities,” the Foreign Ministry tweeted.
It added: “All those involved in these war crimes must bear responsibility! Our heartfelt condolences to Ukrainian people.”
“It is shocking to see the magnitude of inhumanity against innocent civilians that has been taking place in Bucha and other regions of Ukraine!” then Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Zaliakiani retweeted the post of his ministry.
Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Garibashvili, albeit making lengthy controversial comment on Ukraine earlier today, failed to respond to the reports of Russian-conducted massacres in Bucha and other parts of Ukraine.
Ukraine, having liberated Russian-held areas in Kyiv Oblast, said Russia’s forces had executed local civilians arbitrarily. Mayor of Bucha, a town northwest of Kyiv, stated the bodies of around 300 civilians were found in mass graves after Russian troops withdrew.
Foreign Minister Zalkaliani Appointed Ambassador to U.S.
Georgia’s Deputy Prime Minister / Minister of Foreign Affairs David Zalkaliani has resigned to become Ambassador to the United States.
Ilia Darchiashvili, the Head of Government Administration and former Ambassador to Poland, is set to replace Zalkaliani as the top diplomat.
Announcing the decision this morning, PM Irakli Garibashvili said the appointment of FM Zalkaliani, who garners 30-years long experience in diplomatic service, as the Ambassador to the U.S. highlights the importance of relations with Washington for Georgia.
Hailing the U.S. as Georgia’s most important strategic partner, PM Garibashvili said “our task, our desire is to take the relations between the two countries to [higher] level and I believe Dato [David Zalkaliani] will be able to do it successfully.”
On his part, Zalkaliani stated that “representing Georgia in our main strategic partner country, the United States, is a huge responsibility.”
He pledged to “work with even greater responsibility” to bring Georgia-U.S. relations to a higher level.
On his part, newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs Darchiashvili said that the Foreign Ministry and Georgian diplomats will “continue to defend the best interests of the country abroad with an usual dedication.”