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Putin contemplates firefight with U.S.

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WASHINGTON – A recent annual military exercise that Russia held, called Kavkaz-2012, or Caucasus-2012, apparently assumed that Russian battalions would be going up against U.S. Marines who had landed on a Black Sea coast, according to a report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

Without saying which coast, analysts believe such a likely scenario would have been Georgia, which until recently had frigid relations with Moscow and was the subject of a Russian invasion in 2008.

According to regional sources, Russian President Vladimir Putin had visited a military training exercise at the training ground Rayevsky near the port city of Novorossiysk.

The military was simulating an attack from U.S. Marines who had presumed to have landed at a Russian Black Sea port. The exercise had the simulated Marine force penetrate deep into Russian territory with armor and air support to take over possible natural gas and oil pipeline terminals, and even one of the many residences Putin has at his disposal.

At the end of the exercise, sources say, the Russians succeeded in defeating the simulated U.S. Marine force with their traditional conventional force of aircraft, tanks, helicopters and anti-aircraft missiles.

Putin, who was on hand for the exercise, reportedly was impressed with the exercise and presented medals to the troops who defeated the simulated Marine invasion, telling the battalions to “keep their powder dry.”

In an apparent reference to the United States, Putin went even further by saying that the “use of military force is increasing in international relations” and that the Russian military needs to be prepared “to defend national interests.”

This development comes amid complaints that Russia’s Kavkaz-2012 wasn’t open to international observers. Anders Fogh Rasmussen, secretary general for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, raised concerns that there was a lack of transparency and that NATO wasn’t given information as to the “purpose of the exercise, where does it take place, how it is conducted.”

Putin’s people deny the charge and say that military attaches from a number of countries were invited to the training ground at Rayevsky. However, a U.S. diplomat told the think-tank Jamestown Foundation that they were not provided with any detailed information about the exercise or what was happening near Novorossiysk and were sent back to Moscow the same day.

Sources say that Kavkaz-2012 then continued in the North Caucasus without any observers, raising alarms in Georgia that such an exercise could threaten the stability and security of Georgia and the entire region.

Georgian officials have reason to be concerned, since it was a similar exercise in July 2008 – Kavkaz-2008 – that was used by the Russians to stage troops and launch an invasion a month later in August 2008. Putin now admits that such an invasion had been planned since 2006.

The Russians perceive that Georgia would grant the U.S. access to bases should Israel attack Iran, an ally of the Russians. In turn, Russia has sought from the Georgian government permission to open a land corridor to its military base in Armenia to the south of Georgia, but that request has been turned down.

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