MOSCOW, May 24. /TASS/. Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Wednesday took a dig at threats by the US State Department to levy restrictions on Georgia over its move to resume flights with Russia.
"There’s no other way to call [the statements by the State Department] than interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states," the diplomat said at a news conference. "We regard such mentoring statements from Washington as interference in the internal affairs of sovereign states and in their relations with third countries and overt pressure."
According to Zakharova, there is no and cannot be a "rational explanation" for why the US considers it possible to comment on agreements between two sovereign countries.
"If the US places human rights at the forefront of its policy everywhere, then probably they should look at this specific humanitarian situation from the human rights perspective. There is nothing more difficult than crossing the border between the two countries that have had such close ties, including long-standing familial and humanitarian ties, when there’re no direct flights," she went on to say.
Earlier, the US State Department threatened to levy sanctions on any company that provided maintenance services to Russian planes at Georgia's airports.
Direct flights return
Russian President Vladimir Putin on May 10 signed a decree to abolish visas for Georgian citizens starting from May 15. In another decree, he lifted a ban on direct flights by Russian airlines to Georgia that Moscow had stood since 2019. The Russian airline Azimut was the first airline to start flights on May 19, after obtaining permission from Georgian aviation authorities. Georgian Airways was the second airline to start direct flights between Georgia and Russia.
Russia introduced visas for Georgians in 2000, while Georgia abolished visas for Russians in 2012. According to Georgian legislation, Russian citizens can visit the country without a visa and stay for up to one year. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were severed by Tbilisi in 2008 after Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent countries.