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Guram Nikolaishvili: We should not expect a significant breakthrough in normalizing relations with Russia until the situation in our country changes radically

Growing tensions between Russia and Ukraine remain a central issue in the world. The crisis is deepening and the meetings of the parties have not yielded results yet. The positions between Moscow and Washington can not be reconciled, as the last meeting in Geneva showed. Official Moscow’s position remains unchanged – the Kremlin demands the exclusion of NATO eastward expansion. During a meeting with US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stressed that Russia would not change its position and explained why it is fundamentally important for him to return the North Atlantic Alliance to its former borders.

The fact that the alliance was created in its time against the Soviet Union, and today Russia is a target, is nothing new. Sergei Lavrov has spoken openly about this after meeting with the US Secretary  of State, but his argument is still answered by Washington with “traditional” slogans: “Every independent state decides whether to join the alliance” (Georgia and Ukraine have a similar choice).

Interestingly, both Georgia and Ukraine (especially Georgia) have been deprived of the “right to choose” when it comes to so-called internal democracy. For example, this right is taken away when it comes to restoring justice or even passing or rejecting this or that liberal law, which is absolutely incompatible with Georgian culture and customs. It is no longer a question of the country being deprived of a fundamental right from the “democratic” west to act in accordance with its strategic interests. A clear example of this was the Americans’ outrage at the more or less adequate initial position of Georgian Foreign Minister David Zalkaliani on the 3 + 3 format. As you know, Zalkaliani was pointed out that in the phrase “it is difficult to participate in the format of something with the occupant”, the word “difficult” should be replaced by the word “impossible”. As for Ukraine, US President Joe Biden told a one-year press conference that Ukraine could not become a member of the alliance in the near future. By the way, Biden does not shy away from separating Russia’s “small” invasion of Ukraine and large-scale military operations. He stressed that in the event of a “small invasion” the western response would be much lighter, which was perceived in protest in Ukraine. Ukrainian President Vladimir Zelensky responded by saying that there was no big or small invasion or big or small casualties, but that the West’s position remained the same: maximum support for Ukraine would be sanctions against Russia even if the Kremlin violated the “small invasion” scale.

What will receive the Ukraine, which is on the verge of war with the superpower, imposition of sanctions on Russia, even the toughest sanctions, the probability of which is almost unlikely, and what does Biden’s public refusal to admit Ukraine to NATO’s Georgia mean? Lieutenant General Guram Nikolaishvili talks about these and other important issues.

– Let’s start with the fact that the confrontation and tension between Russia and Ukraine is inspired from outside, just as it was in 2008 between us and the Russians. In fact, if anyone does not want a war today and even more so with Ukraine, it is Russia. The Russians have nothing to divide and enmity with the Ukrainians. As for Biden’s statement that Ukraine could not become a member of the Alliance, I would like to remind you that back in 2008, when the Bucharest Summit was being prepared, and there was a question that the summit reflected the prospect of Ukraine and Georgia joining NATO, serious opposition arose among the Allies. For example, it is known that Germany categorically opposed this. The position of France was also questioned.

Why I look back on all this: I started by saying that the events in Ukraine were inspired from the outside, from the very beginning  to the end. It is this Bucharest decision and similar steps that provide inspiration. In this way they manage, first of all, obviously, I mean the United States to have constant hot spots around Russia. What do they get out of it? They accept that, firstly, Russia is constantly at war, and secondly, when there is a constantly hostile environment around you, it takes up a great deal of resources to maintain a secure reality.

– Let’s look at it all this way: Western leaders, including the US president, are publicly telling us that we cannot become members of NATO. Why does Russia need to declare this on the part of the Alliance, what political burden can it have?

– By the way, Biden’s statement had such a wording: the probability that Ukraine will become a member of NATO in the near future is small. Notice, this is not about exclusion, but about the near future. It is rhetoric that allows them to maneuver in the long run. For Russia, of course, such statements can not be a basis for calm, Russia needs a declared guarantee, otherwise it can not consider itself safe, and this is an absolutely correct approach. Why? Because the presence of NATO bases in Ukraine or the South Caucasus means the irreversible process of Russia’s disappearance as a superpower. In general, I am a little surprised by the people who seriously ask the question: yes, but why is Russia so annoyed with NATO even the entry of warships into the Black Sea, it has nuclear weapons! On the other hand – if Russian warships enter and deploy bases in Cuba or Venezuela, will the United States be at peace? This is how we approach the issue and it will be clear that it is absurd when someone says that Georgia is an independent country and decides for itself who to allow on its territory. Cuba is an independent country, but if you decide to deploy Russian military bases on your territory, you will see ultimatums and aggression from Washington.

– How do the events in Ukraine affect Georgia and what does it mean for us that Ukraine refuses to join NATO?

– I would like to focus on the assessments made in the Georgian political spectrum against the background of current events. Foreign-funded hot chapters say that it turns out that Russia is in a deadlock, in crisis, on the verge of collapse or disintegration, and the events in Ukraine will eventually overwhelm it. I would like to say to the society, which is in a vacuum of this harmful propaganda, that in recent years Russia has created a means of armament that eliminates the arsenals of all other countries or military blocs. We are talking about a strategic triad, which includes land, sea and air.

– Specifically?

-, We are talking about missiles that will be equipped on MIG-31s, as well as submarines. As for the “Zircon” in particular, the test of which showed amazing results, it is a supersonic rocket with a speed of 9 Mach, which is 9 times faster than the speed of sound. Do you understand what we are talking about? There is no analogue of “Zircon” and there is talk that after modernization, its speed may increase to 27-28 thousand kilometers per hour. Here, Russia’s owns these weapons, and we are assured that a country that has as many nuclear warheads as the rest of the countries together is in a dead end. I am not saying anything about the radar systems that can destroy enemy satellites in space, which will cause communication paralysis. As for the question of how the Russian-Ukrainian events will affect us, we will answer that we, of course, are directly affected by these processes, but a lot depends on Georgia as well. If we continue the policy that is harmful to us, that Russia is an occupier and at the same time it turns out to be collapsing, so what is needed is a dialogue with it, then, of course, we will be cut off. By the way, if we consider the scale of Ukraine, the “small invasion” that Biden is ready to turn a blind eye to means a large area of ​​Georgia. That is to say, they will be so silent about us and follow us in such a way that not even the rest of the world can understand.

– Does the current government have the resources to regulate relations with Russia at least slightly?

-, In the current government, there may be individuals, in the form of the Prime Minister, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who have more or less adequate approaches, but one is the existence of a position at the personal level and the other is the declared political agenda. This agenda, unfortunately, does not allow foreign priorities to be determined by the national interests of the country; Therefore, until this situation changes radically, we should not expect significant breakthroughs in normalizing relations with Russia. This is our sad reality, which can not bring anything good for the country and can not bring us in the future.

Interviewed by Jaba Zhvania


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