Putin to Poroshenko: Don’t be like Georgia’s Saakashvili, who lost vast territories

Ukraine pursues the same policy against its own people that cost Georgia to lose territory after then-leader Mikhail Saakashvili’s war on Ossetia, Russian President Vladimir Putin said, warning Kiev not to go down the same road.

“The Ukrainian authorities are not just leading the situation into a deadlock, they are pursuing an anti-state and anti-national policy,” the Russian leader said, speaking at the Valdai Club plenary session in the Russian southern city of Sochi. He then compared Kiev’s actions to the policy of Saakashvili, whose military forces attacked the self-proclaimed Republic of South Ossetia back in 2008.

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“These criminal actions resulted in Georgia losing control over vast parts of its territory,” Putin said, adding that it was the result of Saakashvili’s policy. The 2008 Georgian offensive prompted Russia to launch a “peace enforcement” operation against Georgia. The conflict ended up with South Ossetia and another Georgian region –Abkhazia– declaring independence from Georgia, which de-facto lost control over both territories.

Like Saakashvili, the current Ukrainian government still strives to resolve the ongoing Ukrainian conflict by force instead of fulfilling the Minsk Agreements, Putin said, adding that “it has become clear for everyone” that Kiev “does not abide by the agreements and has no intention to do so.”

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The Russian leader then warned the Ukrainian authorities against “following in Saakashvili’s footsteps” and said that he hopes it does not come to the same sort of scenario. Putin added that “assassinating … people’s representatives” in the self-proclaimed Donbass republics is a “bad way” to seek peace with these regions. He apparently was referring to the recent murder of the head of the Donetsk People’s Republic (DPR), Aleksandr Zakharchenko, which local authorities blamed on the Ukrainian security service, the SBU.

Russia is very much interested in restoring normal relations with Ukraine, Putin stressed. However, Kiev continues to “trade only Russophobia and anti-Russian sentiments” while the Ukrainian economy crumbles, being constantly “rocked by internal political crises,” he added.

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