The four Russian soldiers accused of spying by Georgia have arrived back in Moscow to a heroes’ welcome. The quartet were released by Georgian authorities in what they called a “goodwill gesture” to end the worst crisis in years between the ex-Soviet neighbours.
But comments from Defence Minister, Sergei Ivanov, suggested the crisis may soon be over: “This is not the first and it won’t be the last provocation from Georgia,” he said before offering to take tea with the soldiers. Yesterday, Georgia’s President, Mikhail Saakashvili, said although his country wanted good relations it was not prepared to be trampled on. “Our message to Russia is enough is enough,” he said.
Relations between Moscow and Tbilisi have long been uneasy, but they nose-dived after the election of the pro-western Saakashvili. Despite the release, Russia is pressing ahead with a freeze on vital transport and economic links with Georgia. It has already banned two of Georgia’s biggest exports – wine and mineral water.