A week after resuming commercial flights linking Georgia and Russia, Vladimir Putin suggested on Friday that Tbilisi and Moscow should seek to further warm their ties.

“We are ready to walk our part of the road, we are taking facilitation measures and will continue to do so depending on how our partners react,” Mr Putin said, referring to Georgia, during a meeting with Russian businessmen yesterday Friday, according to Russian state news agency TASS.

At the same time, the head of the Russian state said that he was surprised by the fact that there were protests in Georgia due to the resumption of flights. Some in this country have “gone mad”, Mr Putin blasted.

Two weeks ago, Russia moved, rather unexpectedly, to lift the passport visa requirement for Georgian citizens and allowed Georgian airlines to use Russian airspace. Air traffic resumed last week.

Many Georgian citizens welcomed these measures with relief, as Russia has a large Georgian diaspora and many mixed families. But there were also protests in Tbilisi, as a section of the population continues to harbor strong anti-Russian sentiments.

In addition, the pro-Western president of Georgia, Salomi Zourabivili, sharply criticized the actions of the country’s government, stressing that the Russian army continues to occupy parts of the Georgian territory.

It is not possible to make territorial concessions, he emphasized yesterday, according to the country’s media, while at the same time wishing success to the armed forces of Ukraine, where the Russian army invaded in February 2022.

Relations between Russia and Georgia have been characterized by tensions for years, especially after the blitzkrieg of 2008. That armed conflict had led to the severance of diplomatic relations between the two states.

To this day, Moscow supports the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia and keeps Russian troops deployed in the region.

The most recent process of cautious rapprochement between Moscow and Tbilisi ended in 2019, when riots broke out in the former Soviet republic of the Caucasus after a Russian politician appeared in the Georgian parliament.