Kyiv reacted angrily after Georgia’s prime minister, Irakli Garibashvili, accused Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelensky, of interfering in Ukraine’s internal affairs by commenting on protests there last week.
Zelensky thanked protesters for waving Ukrainian flags during demonstrations against Georgia’s “foreign agents” law, saying they showed respect, and he wished Georgians “democratic success.”
On Friday, lawmakers in Georgia scrapped a bill that would have hampered Tbilisi’s efforts to strengthen ties with Europe. Some have claimed it was modeled after a law passed in Russia in 2012 that has been used extensively to repress dissent.
On Sunday, Garibashvili gave an interview to the Georgian IMEDI television broadcast, where he made reference to Zelensky. “When a person who is at war… responds to the destructive action of several thousand people here in Georgia, this is direct evidence that this person is involved, motivated to make something happen here too, to change,” he said.
“I want to wish everyone an early end to this war and peace,” Garibashvili continued.
Ukrainian foreign ministry spokesman Oleh Nikolenko, on the other hand, said that Garibashvili was spreading “Russian propaganda” by saying that Kyiv wanted Georgia to join its conflict with Moscow.
We flatly deny such assertions, which have zero basis in fact. Nikolenko said on Monday on Facebook that the Georgian government was looking in the wrong place for an enemy.
We do not want to impede the Georgian people as they work to build a European future, and Ukraine has been and always will be a friend to them.
However, public opinion in Georgia is overwhelmingly pro-Ukrainian and anti-Russian, despite Garibashvili’s statements to the contrary. In 2008, Georgia and Russia engaged in a brief war over the independence of the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, both of which had the support of Moscow.
Both Georgia and Ukraine have long-term goals of joining the European Union.