Will Russia respond to Georgia's sanctions?
Russia may take retaliatory measures against the seven countries that have backed EU sanctions, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Except for Montenegro and Albania, as well as Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein, Ukraine and Georgia also have confirmed their decision to the EU Council to extend sanctions against Crimea and Sevastopol.
"Certainly, retaliatory steps may follow. We say once again that the principle of reciprocity is a fundamental one," RIA Novosti cited Peskov as saying.
The most interesting in this event is the participation of Georgia in the extension of the sanctions, which, despite the lack of diplomatic relations with Russia, for two and a half years is trying to restore the economic and humanitarian contacts, creating a special Karasin-Abashidze format. They already have had ten meetings, but now Moscow can restore its food embargo as an answer to the anti-Western sanctions.
The assistant head of Rosselkhoznadzor, Alexey Alexeyenko, told Vestnik Kavkaza that "it's too early to talk about a specific Russian response to Georgia, but the return of the embargo is possible." "This requires the government's decision, exactly the same, which was adopted a year ago in relation to the products from the EU and the United States," he said.
The director of the Center for Political Information, Alexei Mukhin, in his turn, said that Georgia was forced to join the sanctions against the Crimea and Sevastopol for financial reasons. "Of course, as a neighbor of Russia, Georgia is pretty inconsistent and hostile. I think that now the republic is under stress due to pressure from the US, which is an important financial partner for Georgia. President Mikhail Saakashvili made too many loans which the current government needs to return," he explained.
"This explains strange, at first glance, positioning of Georgia. Firstly Tbilisi announces the rapprochement with Moscow, trying to increase trade and economic turnover, then it is organizing a political attack on Russia. In this context, I think the Russian leadership has the right to take the necessary actions to force Georgian authorities to conduct more independent policy of respect for national interests," Alexei Mukhin said.
The head of the Institute of Management Strategy, Petre Mamradze, drew attention to the fact that Georgia acceded to the anti-Crimean sanctions, not anti-Russian, and this is due to the principled position of the state to Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
"Because of it, Georgia refused to recognize the independence of Kosovo, while the West insisted on it. This is the similar situation, and Georgia will support the territorial integrity of Ukraine and will oppose the entry of Crimea and Sevastopol to Russia. I would not like Russia to answer back. We just have no other way, we are required to maintain the territorial integrity of all countries of the former Soviet Union," he said.
Former Ambassador of Russia to Georgia, the director of regional programs at the Institute of Caspian Cooperation, Vyacheslav Kovalenko, expects that the Kremlin will not rush with the adoption of resolutions on Georgia, until it becomes clear what Tbilisi is going to do.
"I, frankly, would not want Georgia to impose restrictions against Russia, and I know that not the whole country has anti-Russian position. There are many people who want to restore the relationships with Russia. At the same time, of course, radical supporters of the government, which existed under Saakashvili, didn't disappear," he suggested.
Kovalenko expressed doubt that Russia will introduce food embargo after several years of recovery of the trade turnover with Georgia. "Moscow has other levers of influence on Tbilisi. I hope that the Georgian government will come to understand that it is more profitable for the country not to clash with Russia and find its own way. The way of good-neighborliness and equality between the two countries," the director of regional programs at the Institute of Caspian Cooperation concluded.