“Russia will sooner or later have to pay a high price for this,” Bildt said in a telephone interview from the Georgian capital Tbilisi.
“It changes Russia’s image, there is no doubt about it,” he said, adding that the attacks bore witness to “a strong element of revenge, particularly from Prime Minister Putin.”
Bildt said Moscow’s actions displayed “revenge against a small country that has chosen to pursue a direction that (Russia) doesn’t approve of,” noting that “they’ve previously tried to use economic sanctions to bring about a change of political leadership.”
There was also “revenge for (Georgia’s efforts to join) NATO, revenge for Kosovo, revenge for this and that. And that is perhaps the kind of emotional reaction that is determining at least some of Russian policy right now,” he said.
“One can only hope that reason will reign in Moscow,” Bildt concluded.
Bildt has been fiercely critical of Moscow in the current conflict.
The Swede, whose country holds the chairmanship of the Council of Europe, travelled on Monday to Tbilisi for talks with Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili and Foreign Minister Eka Tkeshelashvili to push for an end to the conflict.
Russian President Dmitry Medvedev announced on Tuesday that he was calling a halt to Russia’s military operation operations in Georgia.
“I’ve decided to finish the operation to force the Georgian authorities to peace. The safety of our peacekeeping forces and civilian population has been restored,” he said in a statement.
“The aggressor has been punished, having sustained considerable losses. Its armed forces have been disorganized,” he added.