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Russia seeks ways to connect Armenia via Georgia

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, October 29
Moscow is seeking ways to overcome difficulties and link with Armenia via Georgia. Andrey Belyaninov, the head of Russia?s Federal Customs Service stressed that the Russian side has held several meetings with Georgian representatives regarding this issue. He admitted that the Kazbegi-upper Lars checkpoint depends on climate change, and landslides block this road quite often.

“There are also air cargo routes. However, these routes are very expensive. By the way, we are going to meet with our Turkish, Georgian and Azerbaijani counterparts in Georgia in November in order to discuss this issue. We meet our Armenian counterparts every day regarding the above-mentioned. Armenia does not have a common border with Russia, this fact creates additional problems,” Belyaninov said.

Russia has already launched the restoration of the road at the Dagestani section on July 2.This road was closed in 1992.

As head of the Dagestan Auto Door, Zagid Khuchbarov said that “30 billion rubles will be spent to build the Avaro-Kakheti road section.” According to Khuchbarov, Ramzan Abdulatipov, the President of Dagestan, is paying a great deal of attention to this project.

Georgian government members have already had to make comments over the issue.

Georgia's Minister of Economy and Sustainable Development Giorgi Kvirikashvili said that the construction of the Dagestan road is not on the agenda.

“There are two main aspects in this case: security and economic benefits. Both must be analyzed by professionals and we must realize what the risks will be or the positives we can receive from the construction of the road. However, we must think twice before giving any permission,” stated Kvirikashvili.

The opposition United National Movement claims that the re-opening of the road will be risky for Georgia, as the road might be used as a lever for Russia to annex Georgia in the case of a future confrontation.

Commenting on the threat, analyst Demur Giorkhelidze suggested that there is no deterrent factor that will prevent Russia from entering Georgia.

“20% of Georgian territory is occupied. That’s why construction of the new road will not change the threat of Russian intervention. When it comes to economic benefits, the road will not play any crucial role for Georgia’s economy either,” Giorkhelidze said.

Fellow analyst Malkhaz Chemia believes that opening such roads are beneficial for countries.

“The road is in the interests of several players. In general, common economic interests decrease a chance of any conflict,” Chemia says.

However, analyst in Caucasus issues, Aleko Kvakhadze, states that opening the road might entail serious risks to Georgia. According to the analyst, in the case of some confrontation between Georgia and Russia, the latter might use the road for its tanks and block the Kakheti region in a short period.