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Russian aggression returns

By Messenger Staff
Monday, September 20
Georgian analysts think that the Russian Defence Minister Anatoly Serdukov’s statement in Washington concerning Georgia was not accidental. As it is known, the Russian minister said that Russia is ready to respond accordingly to a Georgian attack on either Abkhazia or South Ossetia. Experts in Georgia think that this was a very well prepared step taken by Moscow and that unfortunately it was not adequately answered by anyone, neither in the United States nor in the EU, and this raises concern among the Georgian analysts.

Today, Georgia wants the international community to explain worldwide that Russia is an occupier and it continues to occupy Georgian territories. US State secretary Hilary Clinton used this terminology towards Moscow’s position in Georgia, but Tbilisi wants this term to be recognized throughout the world.

Meanwhile at the press conference in Washington, Minister Serdukov stated that in the young republics in the South Caucasus there is enough Russian military potential to respond to any possible aggression from Georgia. Worryingly, he also warned that it would take less than five days for the Russians to do so.

The Kremlin maintains the same tone and tries to establish its version of a new reality: That it is not an aggressor and occupier but rather a liberator, defending Abkhazia and South Ossetia from Georgian ‘aggression’.

Talking about Georgia’s possible aggression is a dirty game played by Moscow to disguise its own aggressive plans. Georgian authorities react differently, Vano Merabsihvili minister of Interior, is sure that no aggression from Russia is envisaged whereas President Saakashvili does not rule it out. Serdukov however did not stop at the threat to Georgia; he expressed his discontent that some countries are providing arms to Georgia. “Russia will do everything in future in order to decrease arms supplies to Georgia to the bare minimum,” stated Serdukov.

Georgian analysts assert with regret that the west and the US is considering Russian claims and are not supplying Georgia with the arms it is looking for. Internet site reports that Georgian authorities are concerned that the US does not want to upset Moscow and may block the selling of arms from American companies to Georgia. The agency thinks that this is a principle subject rather than a real threat to Russia. American arms are expensive, the Georgian budget has shrunk. Russian armed forces are much stronger than the Georgians and whatever arms Tbilisi can acquire; it will not match Moscow militarily.

Just a few days before Serdukov’s statement, Robert Gates, Defence Secretary of the US, stated that the US is cautious in providing arms to Georgia, mainly limiting the supplies of the necessary equipment for fulfilling its peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan. This statement was probably made to calm the Russians down but it is not very much celebrated by Georgian society, which expects a different response, at least verbally, from its strategic partner.

So the questions is, how long can Georgia continue with its radically pro western approach, distancing itself from Russia, with only cautious support from the west? Particularly when, at the same time, Russia appears to be exercising its domineering role in the South Caucasus.