Russia’s Foreign Ministry says Georgia requested help against the fire in the Borjomi Gorge, but while Tbilisi later thanked them, they ultimately refused the support.
Russia says they accepted Georgia’s request over fire
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, August 28
“There is lot of pressure on Russian EMERCOM rescuers all over the region this season; recently they fought a major forest fire in Armenia, and are now fighting steppe fires in the Volgograd Region.
“However, we immediately responded to the request of Tbilisi to help them fight fires in Borjomi-Kharagauli National Park. In order to do this, we allocated an EMERCOM Il-76 plane,” Press Speaker of the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said.
She stressed some time later the government of Georgia thanked them and informed them that the fire had been contained, “and they did not need our help”.
“We sincerely hope that our neighbours are able to extinguish the fires as soon as possible. And we believe it is not necessary to comment on the unhealthy fantasies of those who look at natural disasters in their own country as just another opportunity to spread anti-Russian rhetoric,” Zakharova added.
Georgia’s Envoy to Russia, Zurab Abashidze, stated that the scales of the fire and critical situation required operative and efficient action as well as the use of ‘relevant techniques’.
“Therefore, Georgia’s government decided to address foreign countries asking for help in extinguishing the fire. The list of the countries includes our neighbors. A phone conversation was held between me and Mr. Karasin (Russia’s deputy foreign minister),” Abashidze said.
He announced during the conversation that Russia expressed readiness to provide assistance if the situation became more complicated.
Afterwards, a relevant note was sent to Russia via the Swiss Embassy.
“All procedures were followed. But later there was no need for further help. Relationships between rescue services is an established practice in case of emergencies,” Abashidze said.
Many expressed a belief on social networks that the present fires in Georgia had been caused by Russia, especially when several days before the fire Russian occupant forces and representatives of Georgia’s eastern breakaway Tskhinvali region launched the digging of anti-fire zones.
During the recent fire in Borjomi Gorge, more than 100 hectares of forest were destroyed.
During the Russia-Georgia 2008 war,the Russians deliberately burnt about 1,000hecrates of forest in the same Borjomi Gorge.