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Russia and Georgia: Confrontation Review
October 17, 2006 13:17

Russia and Georgia are the countries, which have been closely connected throughout history. Lots of citizens of the former Soviet Union can’t understand how these two states could become opponents. But what we see now is economical and political confrontation and there is no bottom to it.

Last time stained relations between the two countries were revealed on March 27, when the Federal Supervision Agency for Customer Protection of the Russian Federation suspended the operation of issued earlier Sanitary-Epidemiological Conclusion on wine and wine materials imported from Georgia. According to the data provided by the Head of the Agency Gennadiy Onichshenko, results of inspection prove alcoholic beverages don’t meet safety requirements. Chemical composition of wine showed presence of heavy metals and pesticides. Such products may be very dangerous for consumers’ life and health.

 Besides, on May 7, the Chief medical sanitation officer put Georgian mineral water Borjomi under a ban, as the inspection detected bottles of mineral water not conforming to set standards of quality and safety. Experts notice that the amount of mineral water Borjomi at the Russian Market exceeds productive capacity of the spring.

The embargo resulted in a sudden decrease of Georgian export to Russia. The latter is known as the main export partner of Georgia. On the whole Georgian export has lost about $35-40 million.


In 2005 Russia and Georgia’s goods exchange amounted to $505.8 million. The major share of export was represented with food commodities (51.1%). The rest supply items are: machinery, equipment and transport means - 16.7%, chemical production – 11%, mineral commodity – 8.7%. Yet, Gazexport (an organization department of Gazprom) is the dominant supplier of natural gas to Georgia.

 The major share of Russian import was represented with food commodities, too – predominantly, alcoholic beverages and mineral water (88.3%). The remaining part falls at metals and objects made of it, machinery and other goods. On the whole Russian segment in Georgian total trade made up 16%, Georgian segment in Russian trade turnover – 0.1%.

Georgian experts say, that the annual currency earnings volume going from Russia to Georgia (including money got by Georgians working in Russia) floats from $1.2 to $2.0 billion, which makes up about 20% of Georgian GDP and considerably exceeds the total volume of foreign aid granted to the country.

Thus, it’s clear that the situation leaves a lot to be desired, but two weeks ago a new round of the conflict took place. On September 27, the Georgian authorities arrested five Russian military men. One of them was later released but four others were accused of espionage. Russia considered this accident as a provocation. The RF Ministry of Foreign Affairs recalled the ambassador from Tbilisi to Moscow for consultations and announced the evacuation of embassy press-officers. On Tuesday the RF ministry of Transport suspended all kinds of transportation between Russia and Georgia. The Ministry justified the decision of air traffic suspension by accumulate debts of Georgian air area users. Overdue repayment of debts has amounted already to over $3.6 million and floating debts exceeded $176 thousand. It should be mentioned that terms of air traffic suspensions would be determined in view of the debts settlement.

At the same time, all mail traffic and money transfers between two countries have also been stopped. One can be sure: some day the conflict will be resolved but the cost of it may be too high.


Olga Pletneva


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