- The Washington Times - Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Mikheil Saakashvili, the former two-term president of Georgia who now serves as a leader of the United National Movement Party, said in a column for a U.K. newspaper that Russian President Vladimir Putin’s aggression against the Ukraine is far from over.

He also suggested that the West was partially to blame for the current situation, and that if the United States and allies had taken stronger steps to stop Mr. Putin’s 2008 invasion of Georgia, “Ukraine would never have happened,” he wrote in the op-ed for the Guardian.

“I have no doubt that in Ukraine, Russia’s goal is the same as in Georgia,” Mr. Saakashvili said in the op-ed. He specified that regardless of the seeming level of backing by Crimean voters to leave the Ukraine, the truth was clear: Russia orchestrated the so-called ballot support.

Ukraine’s interim president Oleksandr Turchynov agreed, calling the vote for Crimea to secede a “great farce” that his government would “never accept.”

Mr. Saalashvili also predicted that Mr. Putin’s grab at power wouldn’t stop with Ukraine.

“Vladimir Putin will claim he has legal justification for further military build-up and direct armed attack,” likely at Kiev, he wrote.

He based his opinion on first-hand experience with Mr. Putin, who sent in troops in 2008 to South Ossetia and Abkhazia, and then claimed that he was liberating the regions’ Georgian populations.

Mr. Saalashvili has made similar statements before. He recently told the Daily Beast that he didn’t think Mr. Putin would “stop where he is. He is not going to stop anywhere until he gets rid of the leadership in Kiev.”

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