Is it possible for the area of the Russia-Ukraine war to be expanded? What threats and challenges is Georgia facing? What opportunities may emerge and whether Georgia is ready for them? Mamuka Jgenti, former Permanent Representative of Georgia to the Council of Europe and founder of the Georgian Institute of European Values has spoken for Front News over these and other important topics.
The situation has changed all over the world, not only in the region. We have faced an absolutely different reality. The fact is that the world security order has changed. I do not rule out the need for the functioning of the UN to be reviewed, especially the European security structure. The EU leaders have decided to launch the building of the European Army which had existed in a form of idea alone under the name of the ‘Western European Union.’ Today the decision has been made and the defense structure of the European Union will be created, which, of course, will change everything.
As for our region, it is obvious that Russia is being cornered not only by the international community, but also by its own mistakes. This time Putin’s back is against the wall. Actually, he had a different plan. Putin thought everything would have been as earlier and he would succeed. However, for the first time, the whole international community rose against him. Now he has no way back as this would mean the fate of Gaddafi or Saddam Hussein for him. Putin has put everything at stake and pushed a full-scale invasion. However, his goals are hard to predict. If Russia takes control of Kyiv, Odessa, Mariupol, Kharkiv, how long will they be able to maintain this control? Ukraine is not Georgia where you can assign someone and take control. These people have the experience of guerrilla warfare. Conquering a country of 44 million is easier than maintaining control over it.
Front News: In this situation, what threats is Georgia facing?
Mamuka Jgenti: Ukraine is protecting not only its own territory, but also ours and the future of European states and people, which in the long run may turn positive for us if our government takes appropriate steps. However, in the short run, the war may pose security threats for Georgia. Putin may try to recover his failure in Ukraine as he would face a number of problems inside the country due to sanctions and will have to justify the invasion of Ukraine.
He does not need to send troops to Georgia because, actually, he controls what he wants in the country through our government. This is done by direct order or by fear… No matter what the reason is, Putin has achieved his goals in the country. However, Putin may need to show some aggression to shift the public attention on it, and this may be the annexation of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions, or one of them.
Front News: Is it possible for Russia to expand the area of the war?
Mamuka Jgenti: From a military point of view, perhaps, Russia is more interested in Moldova at this stage where the 14th Army is stationed in Transnistria. Moldova is far more at risk than Georgia as of now. However, Nothing is excluded as both Putin and other Russian officials do not seem adequate in their actions and statements.
Front News: Do you believe that Russia may attack Poland?
Mamuka Jgenti: It is less likely for Russia to invade a NATO member state. If Putin fails in Ukraine, and it is expected that he will fail, it is more likely Russia will take some steps against Moldova and then against Georgia. After this Putin will decide whether it is sufficient or additional moves are required. If Russia succeeds in Ukraine, they will not stop there, Georgia and Moldova. Finland, Poland, Romania, the former socialist countries and even Berlin may come next. However, as I have already mentioned, Putin’s plans for Ukraine have been destroyed due to the unity of the West. This will no longer be the situation we had in 2008, or like in Ukraine in 2014. Rubicon has already been crossed and nothing could be reversed.
Front News: What opportunities may open up for Georgia in the long run and will the current state authorities be capable of using them ?
Mamuka Jgenti: I am sure the current auhototries will not use any of the opportunities as they have missed a lot of chances so far. If Russia weakens, of course, we will have a chance of talking directly to Abkhazians and Ossetians (although, I do not know who will talk to them). Even if someone from these regions would want to speak with us (with the central Georgian government), they will not do it without a supervisor. We must not allow the use of military force against Abkhazians and Ossetians, we should live together in the future.
Front News: What are Georgia’s chances of joining the EU or NATO?
Mamuka Jgenti: As for the EU, I will tell you directly that the bloc will not accept us. Today we are not ready for this. Especially under the current government this is unimaginable. As for NATO, in terms of meeting the criteria, we meet much more criteria of NATO than of the EU. These are all possibilities, but if the window of these possibilities is opened and we miss it, it will be a serious crime.
Front News: What would you say about the prospect of new security umbrellas?
Mamuka Jgenti: I am skeptical about this. I think that NATO will become stronger and more relevant.