Raids on Georgian-owned businesses in Moscow have raised the stakes in a spying row between Russia and Georgia. A casino was one of several premises targeted by specialist police in the operation. The action came after Moscow ordered air, sea, rail and postal links with Georgia to be cut in retaliation for Tbilisi’s arrest last week of four Russian officers on spying charges.
Georgia released the officers after international mediation but Moscow has ignored US and EU appeals to drop sanctions against its southern neighbour. President Vladimir Putin has kept the pressure up, saying he would not allow any state to talk to Russia in what he called the “language of provocation and blackmail.”
Adding to the tensions, the Kremlin has said its navy would continue a training exercise in the Black Sea, ignoring complaints from Georgia. The transport embargo is having an impact on Georgia’s economy. Russians holidaying in Georgia were also left stranded by the cutting of air links. Tbilisi also stepped up pressure on Moscow, indicating it would block Russia’s attempts to join the World Trade Organisation.