Russia tests soft power front in Georgia, President says
Russia tests soft power front in Georgia, President says

I don’t think that Russia currently has the resources or the wish to test another front against the West in Georgia. However, Russia is employing a soft power policy in our country, stated Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili in an interview with CNN.

The journalist asked: “Do you in Georgia feel less threatened or more threatened? As we know, and we’ve been watching so many tens, if not hundreds of thousands of anti-war Russians have been fleeing to Georgia and through Georgia. But you had your own invasion in 2008 and you’re still, I think, are concerned about Putin’s intentions. How do you feel today about that?”

When answering President Zourabichvili noted: “Of course, I mean, one cannot not be concerned, especially when a regime is entering and end period and clearly Putin is not mastering everything today and certainly not mastering the war in Ukraine.

You can always be concerned about what can be the erratic decisions that can be taken. In our case, at this stage, I do not think that there is a military stress, first of all, because we have a military occupation that is ongoing since 2008 and earlier, under a different form since 1991.

So two regions are occupied with military bases of Russia. So to say that we are fearing the military application would not mean much. But I think that what is happening, what could happen even more is that Russia is testing today the resolve and testing what I call second front of soft power, which is propaganda, which is through this Russians that have come to Georgia that I will repeat need to be controlled.

We cannot just let whatever amount of Russians come to the territory of Georgia without knowing who they are. Vast majority, as you mentioned, are people that are fleeing today’s Russia, so not really pro Putin population. But when, at the same time, we know the threats that are used by Russia saying that Russian speaking people if they are not protected correctly, that can be a subject and a reason for support and intervention by Russia. So all of that is this very grey zone that can be used by Russia, which again, I don’t think has the resources or the wish to test another front to get towards the west in Georgia, but can be testing a soft power policy, propaganda, which after all is the usual instrument of Russia for so many years”.