Russia Damaging European Security, Georgia Foreign Minister Says

Russia is damaging Europe’s security infrastructure and isn’t responsive enough to efforts to end violence in Ukraine, Georgian Foreign Minister Tamar Beruchashvili said.

European leaders need to be united and consistent in their approach toward Russia, Beruchashvili, whose country was routed by Russia in a five-day war in 2008, said in an interview on Thursday at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Sanctions need to be continued, accompanied by “peaceful diplomatic means,” she said.

“We see aggression that continues in the eastern part of Ukraine, we see that the rebels are openly supported by Russia and this is getting extremely dangerous,” Beruchashvili said.

The conflict in Ukraine has brought tensions between Russia and its Cold War-era foes to their highest pitch since the fall of communism a quarter century ago. The United Nations estimates that 4,800 people have died.

Ukraine, the U.S. and its allies blame Russia for arming and aiding the rebels with weapons. Russia has consistently denied any military involvement and accuses the Kiev government of attacking its own citizens. Georgia, a former Soviet republic, is also at odds with the government in Moscow over the fate of two breakaway territories backed by the Kremlin.

Sanctions imposed by the U.S., the European Union and their allies have compounded the effect of plunging energy prices and led Russia’s economy to the brink of recession as the ruble plummeted almost 50 percent in the past 12 months.

While there’s a consensus about the measures among European leaders, there are “some signals” that they should be lifted as they also damage the economies of other countries, Beruchashvili said.

Sanctions need to be upheld “if there will not be proper behavior by Russia, not only in relation to Ukraine, which is the burning issue today, but also in relation to Georgia,” she said. “If sanctions and appropriate instruments aren’t used, the price could be much higher.”

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