Russia's Medvedev Makes Nuclear Point to Demotivate Georgia’s NATO Cravings
Moscow on August 6 issued a friendly reminder to Georgia that Russia’s got nuclear bombs; just something to keep in mind while weighing the costs and benefits of joining the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.
The heads-up came in an interview with Georgia's Rustavi2, perhaps the least sympathetic TV news channel to Russia, in which Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev provided a status update for Georgian-Russian relations on the fifth anniversary of the two countries' 2008 war.
Amidst a refrain (by now, hackneyed to many Georgians) about how politics and wars can’t get between the pair's centuries-old friendship, Medvedev had one key message -- the Kremlin’s unremitting disappointment over Georgia’s NATO fetish.
“We are against -- putting it mildly -- Georgia’s joining NATO,” Medvedev said, in remarks voiced-over into Georgian by Rustavi2. But don’t get us wrong, he continued. “Any country has the right to choose a preferred political and military alliance to join,” yet the Kremlin just can’t sit and watch a neighboring country, be it Georgia or Ukraine, become part of a strategic alliance that still has Russia in the crosshairs.
“May I remind you that Russia is a very big country with a huge nuclear arsenal and that is something not to be ignored . . .” he added. "Yes, we have a partnership with NATO, but a fact remains a fact."
Rustavi2 anchor Nino Shubladze pointed out that the Baltic countries had joined the Euro-Atlantic military club and it did not seem to lead to any doomsday developments.
Yes, and Moscow is not happy about it, Medvedev pointed out. Nothing good will come of Georgia’s following the Baltic example, he reiterated.
If Georgia’s does join NATO, it will lead to years of tensions, broader than just a conflict over the breakaway territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, for “you will become a member of a military alliance that is presumed an enemy in certain circumstances,” Medvedev said.
Perhaps lost in the psychological intricacies of Russia collaborating with an alliance which it considers an enemy "in certain circumstances," Medvedev did not offer any carrots to motivate Georgia to drop its addiction to pursuing NATO membership. The fact that thousands of Georgians have been uprooted from the breakaway territories and that elderly farmers need to crawl through Russian-built barbed-wire fences to collect their crops or access medical aid is not Russia’s problem, he said.
But maybe, just maybe Georgia will spare itself further conflicts. That’s the best deal you will get, Medvedev said. Or, as American comedian Bill Hicks would say, you are free to do as we tell you.
Giorgi Lomsadze is a journalist based in Tbilisi, and author of Tamada Tales.
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