The United States and European Union have pressed on the Georgian government not to allow the reestablishment of direct flights with Russia as ruling party officials in Tbilisi refuse to rule out the possibility, eurasianet reports.
As Russian officials continued to float the prospect of reversing the ban they instituted nearly four years ago, the U.S. and EU issued similar statements to media outlets warning that servicing flights to Russia could violate Western sanctions against the Russian airline sector.
“Many Western countries, including the United States, prohibit Russian aircraft from entering their airspace. We would be concerned about the resumption of flights between Russia and Georgia, given that companies at Georgian airports could be subject to sanctions if they serve aircraft subject to additional import and export controls,” the U.S. State Department told the Georgian service of Voice of America. “The entire Western community has distanced itself from this brutal regime, and now is not the time to expand engagement with Russia.”
"We are aware of the recent discussions on the possible restoration of direct flights between Russia and Georgia,” an EU spokesperson told the Georgian newspaper Netgazeti. “The European Union calls on Georgia to join the sanctions imposed by the European Union and other countries against Russia in the aviation sector and to remain vigilant against any possible attempts to circumvent the sanctions.”
When Russia invaded Ukraine and the U.S., Europe, and their allies imposed sweeping sanctions against Moscow. While Georgia’s government said it would not impose its own sanctions, it has consistently received praise from Washington and Brussels for cooperating with the Western sanctions regime, complying with financial sanctions and carrying out border controls to prevent sanctions evasion.
But Tbilisi’s toying with the prospect of welcoming Russian flights seems to have set off warning bells in Western capitals.