The Baltic states will be Russia's next target after Ukraine as Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to test NATO, Mikheil Saakashvili, the former president of Georgia and now the governor of Ukraine's Odessa region, said in an interview on Tuesday.
Mikheil Saakashvili
© L.Segers nuotr.

"There is no way that they will not go to the Baltics next. There is no way that they will not revisit Georgia or Azerbaijan. Putin is obsessed with the idea of testing NATO – this was clear in my long conversations with him," Saakashvili told the Independent.

"Putin said three major things. One, we will make Georgia like Northern Cyprus. The second was that Ukraine was not a country but a territory. And the third thing was that the Baltic countries were not defendable. He said all these things, until we were no longer on talking terms," he added.

Associate Professor Kęstutis Girnius of the Institute of International Relations and Political Science at Vilnius University believes Saakashvili is exaggerating. Girnius also doubted that Putin would call Georgia new North Cyprus, which is considered by the international community a territory occupied by the Turks, in a direct conversation with him.

"Putin has so far not managed to defeat weakened Ukraine. He knows very well that the Baltic states are NATO members and are a tougher nut to crack, all the more so, they are getting ready for possible aggression. And Putin is a careful player," Girnius told BNS on Tuesday.

Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko appointed Saakashvili governor of Ukraine's Odessa region in late May. Saakashvili used to be praised for the reforms carried out during the decade of his rule, which modernized Georgia. His later record was more controversial, especially regarding the war with Russia in August 2008.

BNS
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