“I miscalculated Putin because we thought Russians would never go for Tbilisi,” – the former Georgian president Mikheil Saakashvili said in an interview with the Institute for War and Peace Reporting (IWPR). He noted that all Georgia’s Western partners had assured him that this option was not on the cards.
“Everyone said the Russians would never invade us; Condi Rice always said that”,– Saakashvili said.
Saakashvili singled out current German president Frank-Walter Steinmeier as a rare leader who had an accurate assessment of Russia’s plans.
“Everyone said the Russians would never invade us; Condi Rice always said that; she said I know the Russians, I went, I skated in Russia as a young girl, I went to Moscow, MGIMO [the Moscow State Institute of International Relations], I know them, they will provoke you but they will never do anything. That was their assessment; the only guy who said otherwise was Steinmeier; Steinmeier put this to us very bluntly, now that I think of that. It was an assessment of German intelligence based on their internal sources in Moscow because Steinmeier came to Georgia in a very hasty way and he was nervous, you could see that, he just came because he thought an invasion would happen and he wanted to show that beforehand at least they tried to do something and he told us, in the German way, that there will be an invasion.
When he came for his shuttle mission; then he went to see [Russian foreign minister Sergei] Lavrov and then he came to see Abkhaz in the town of Gali; he came again back to Batumi and told us that. We were sitting in a restaurant with several members of our government and one of them asked him a question, ‘Mr Minister, will you help us with bringing in international peacekeepers to both our conflict zones?’ Steinmeier puts his fork down and says, ‘Guys, what peacekeepers are you talking about? You’ll soon have a large-scale war here.’ And we were, like, what? [Steinmeier said] ‘I’ll tell you how it will happen there will be shooting between you and them all the time, in the past, they’ve stopped but this time they will not stop, they will shoot back and they will shoot back more. And at a certain point you will have to go in and retaliate and then Russians will hit you with their full force and then there’ll be full-scale war; the only thing we can do is to separate it.’ He described it in very precise terms”, – Saakashvili said.