WASHINGTON – It could be déjà vu all over again – as a Russian-led security group is in the process of holding a series of military exercises for the first time in the South Caucasus in what may be a prelude to a military attack on the former Soviet republic of Georgia, next door, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.
Russia has on the calendar a series of military exercises this month and next in cooperation with the Russian-led Collective Security Treaty Organization, or CSTO. The largest, called Kavkaz-2012, was held in Russia’s South Military District in southern Russia.
The just-finished project involved more than 8,000 personnel, 200 military vehicles, 100 artillery and 10 combat vehicles. It included security forces from the Federal Security Service and Interior ministry in addition to the Ministry of Defense.
It was significant since it drew the attention of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, which has been in the process of conducting its own military exercises in Georgia reflecting scenarios that affect critical infrastructure.
Nevertheless, the fact that NATO is conducting a military exercise in the Republic of Georgia has raised concerns with neighboring Russia.
Russia’s reaction and the fact that it’s conducting military exercises of its own are of particular concern to Georgia, which was the subject of a Russian invasion in August 2008 following a similar annual military exercise.
Georgia is in the South Caucasus and has continued to block a land corridor that the Russians need to reach their sole base in Armenia, where they intend to hold another CSTO military exercise.
Although smaller, the exercise in Armenia where the Russians have a single base may be more significant. It is the first to be held in the South Caucasus. However, the Russians need to fly in all supplies since Georgia continues to block land access.
As WND/G2Bulletin has reported previously, the Russians are incensed by the Georgian government’s ongoing block of land access for the Armenian base. The Russians also intend to provide assistance to Iran next door to Armenia should the Israelis decide to launch a military attack on Iran’s nuclear facilities.
The Russian base in Armenia receives all of its fuel and some supplies from neighboring Iran.
The military exercise in Armenia also is significant, since it is the first CSTO exercise involving the countries of Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Russia and Tajikistan in the South Caucasus. Like NATO, the CSTO members are obliged to respond to any threat to its members.
“Given the fact that none of the CSTO members recognized the independence of (the breakaway Georgian provinces) of Abkhazia or South Ossetia, it is unclear what the precise circumstances might involve in order to convince Central Asian members to send forces to a crisis or conflict situation in the South Caucasus,” according to Roger McDermott of the Washington-based think-tank Jamestown Foundation.
However, a collective military exercise, as in 2008, may just be a cover for Russian President Vladimir Putin to stage his forces for the impending October parliamentary elections in Georgia.
Already, Georgian officials are sounding the alarm.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry claims that Russia is positioning large numbers of troops and military equipment in the Georgian breakaway provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
The amassing of troops comes as Georgia prepares to hold parliamentary elections on Oct. 1.
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