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American bases in Georgia?

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, March 17
After the Russians occupied Georgian territory and started building military bases on it Georgian Foreign Minister Grigol Vashadze raised the issue which was being actively discussed in Georgian society: since NATO has not admitted Georgia as a member, why not invite the US to establish military bases in Georgia? This would definitely secure the country from a repeat Russian invasion. It would also probably mean that the Russian-occupied territories would be lost for ever, but aren’t they lost anyway?

Both the USA and Georgia have many times previously declared that no military bases of a foreign country should be stationed in Georgia. However the balance of forces in this region has been destroyed by Russia, which has started building bases on Georgian territory through its cynically and hypocritically established puppet regimes, having recognized the territories they control as ‘independent states’ and signed bilateral agreements with them. Vashadze has therefore stated that Tbilisi would not object to the deployment of US military bases on the country’s territory. If the Russians are doing it, why not the Americans too?

In Abkhazia the Russians will be allowed to retain a military presence for at least 49 years. The South Ossetians have been more ‘generous’ and granted a 99 year lease pf building land for the Russian military. 3,800 solders will be located in each of these regions. Constructing the bases will cost approx USD 0.4 billion, and the cost of arms, logistics and so on needs to be added to that. Of course the number of Russian servicemen there will also be increased. We can just imagine how far this tendency will lead.

Vashadze made his announcement on March 12 during his tour of Japan. He added that so far there had been no consultations on this issue, but if the US wanted to establish such bases Georgia would be prepared to seriously consider this. Vashadze is a professional diplomat, so would not have said such a surprising thing on his own initiative. The move might have been suggested by the US, rather than being a Georgian initiative, but we will probably never find out for sure.

Of course the Russian side is not happy with the possibility of American bases in Georgia. Official Moscow however is silent, waiting for Washington’s reaction. Matthew Bryza did not say much about this while in Georgia a couple of days ago, suggesting the US might equally be waiting for Moscow’s reaction to its carefully-planted ‘leak’ before making any public statement. It will be interesting to see who blinks first.

Georgian political commentators have different opinions on this issue. Paata Zakareishvili considers that Vashadze expressed as reality something which is only a hope at present. Soso Tsiskarishvili found it strange that the announcement was made in Japan. Why did Vashadze not raise the matter directly with the USA rather than making an announcement out of context? Ramaz Sakvarelidze believes this proposal is a way of exerting diplomatic pressure on Russia. Irakli Menagarishvili stresses that Georgia has always been very cautious about allowing foreign countries to establish military bases on its territory.

So the intrigue is here. Let us await the next development together.