Sergei Ivanov: absence of diplomatic relations does not impede Russia-Georgia contacts
Despite the absence of diplomatic relations between Russia and Georgia, they have contacts, which are not publicized, Special Presidential Representative for Environmental Protection, Ecology and Transport Sergei Ivanov said, who in 2008 served as Russia's deputy prime minister, overseeing issues relating to the military-industrial complex.
He drew attention to the fact that the Georgian side has an understanding that Russia and Georgia are neighbors, these countries have historical and cultural ties. "Which means there will be contacts," he stressed.
At the same time, Ivanov noted that contacts at the political level were not really intensive before the 2008 conflict as well. "Already since 2007 the political contacts have not been at a sufficiently high level," Kommersant cited him as saying.
He also drew attention to the fact that Georgia is not the object of Russia's primary foreign policy attention. "The military threat from the territory of Georgia does not come if the Georgian side wants to develop relations - we are ready for this," he stressed.
According to Ivanov, despite the absence of diplomatic relations, trade relations between the countries are developing, the tourist flow is growing.
Speaking about the 2008 events, Sergei Ivanov said that former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice had repeatedly assured him in his personal conversations that former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili would not cross the "red line" with regard to South Ossetia.
Ivanov noted that the military headquarters all over the world are always guided by worst-case scenarios. "That s why our General Staff developed a secret plan of actions in 2007 in the case if full-scale military operations begin in South Ossetia and Russian citizens are put in danger," he said.
Nevertheless, Ivanov noted that there is always a difference between theoretical constructions and practical implementation. "There was such a situation that we did not expect that the attack on Russian citizens would be carried out on this day," the Russian leader's special envoy added.
He also noted that the plan stipulated that "if military intervention and peace enforcement was necessary in Georgia, military units fully manned by contract servicemen enter the territory of South Ossetia," the former deputy prime minister said.
In addition, Ivanov said that the U.S. State Department unofficially acknowledged that former Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili was the initiator of the war. "Moreover, the subsequent development, including the recognition of the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and the reaction of the West, showed that all Western leaders, in fact, knew who was responsible for this situation," the special representative said.
He also noted that after the 2008 events, Rice told him in one-on-one conversations that the U.S. has nothing to do with it. "She admitted that it was Saakashvili's initiative and that he was the culprit of the war, but in private conversation," Sergei Ivanov added.