The times we are living in are extremely interesting. Quite recently, we were indignant at the presence of the US troops in Central Asia. However, today, as we see that the situation is not commented upon in the Kremlin, we shut are eyes to it. The USA, in its turn, understood this silence as Russia’s consent and decided to send its troops to Georgia. This information was reported by the New York Times today. According to the newspaper’s report, the first group will make up 100-200 soldiers, but the number may increase as the operation develops.
The New York Times also informed that elite US troops will not be allowed “to participate directly in the operations," but they may “hold the line in case of attacks."
CBS News informs that US troops will arrive in Georgia at the end of the week, as, according to the recent information, Al Qaeda militants might be hiding in the Pankissky Gorge after their retreat from Afghanistan.
The newspaper provided no information regarding the length of the stay of US troops in Georgia. A group of military experts from the US European command held a provisional reconnaissance in Georgia a month ago. The United Committee of the HQ commanders will soon finally confirm the sending of special teams to the former Soviet republic.
We can hardly call the event a sensation. Quite recently, PRAVDA.Ru published an article titled “USA’s next target is the republic of Georgia," from which we understand that, since the USA believes Al Qaeda militants are located in Georgia, soon, a US military contingent will be sent to the country. This is most likely certain, as Russia has no way to influence Georgia. If Georgia were a Collective Security Treaty member, there would be a way for Moscow to exert pressure on it. The treaty was signed in 1992 by nine countries, now six states: Russia, Armenia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kirgizia, and Tajikista. Georgia, Uzbekistan, and Azerbaijan pulled out of the Treaty in 1999, as they considered it to be useless.
Let us take up the dynamics of the events that resulted in today’s publications by the New York Times.
US charge d’affaires in Georgia Philip Remler in his interview to the Guardian said, “numerous Al Qaeda militants and Talibs are scattered about the Caucasus and Georgia, namely. Russia reacted to the statement instantly; Defense Minister Sergey Ivanov and Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov said that Osama bin Laden might be among the militants as well.
Talks about cooperation between Russia and Georgia in the operation in the Pankissky Gorge, etc, began.
The Georgian government could not abstain from comments about the US statements. Georgian Minister for internal affairs Koba Narchemashvili and Deputy State Security Minister Irakly Alasaniya in an interview with the Rustavi-2 TV company said that “Russia and Georgia planned no joint operations in the Pankissky gorge, as there is no need to organize such operations.”
Georgia’s Security Minister Valery Khaburdzania obscured the issue when he said that Georgian special services might “hold important operations of an anti-criminal and not anti-terrorist character.” In his words, if a large-scale operation is to be held in the Pankissky Gorge, Georgia may appeal to Russia and other countries for information, methodological, and technical help.
The late secretary of Georgia’s Security Council, Nugzar Sadzhaya, made a statement on the problem; he said that he knew nothing about development of a US-Russian joint plan for an anti-terrorist opeartion in the Pankissky Gorge. He told journalists: “First we should verify the information and only afterwards comment on it.” Nevertheless, “if we need an operation to establish order in the gorge, Georgia will be able to organize it itself.” It was also pointed out that Georgia was ready to accept technical and methodological aid from Russia and the USA for its anti-terrorism struggle. However, he did not mean that a joint operation would be held by the USA and Russia.
In addition, some Georgian politicians think that Moscow’s influence is perceived in the death of the Security Council Chairman, as Nugzar Sadzhaya was a pro-Russian politician. Georgia’s state security minister said in an interview with Georgian television that the forces that are active in Russia and aim at the seizure of power in Georgia forced Nugzar Sadzhaya to commit suicide. Thus, Georgia tries to blacken the idea of cooperation with Russia, especially taking account of the fact that the USA is so concerned about the situation in the Pankissky Gorge now.
Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung was correct when it reported that “Georgia is ready for a joint military operation with US troops in the Pankissky Gorge but rejects any cooperation between the military forces of Russia and Georgia.”
Neues Deutschland is even more honest about the situation: “The presence of the US troops in Georgia would undermine Russia’s interests in the region along the south border; this would be even worse than the US’s presence in any other Central Asiatic republic.”
The USA promises to help Georgia with its struggle with terrorists and expects to station troops in Georgia on a continued basis. Georgia shares a border with NATO member Turkey. The presence of US troops in Georgia would make for a sooner entry of the country into NATO. If NATO enters the Caucasus region, Russia will hardly recover after such a strong blow.
Dmitry Litvinovich PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Photo by NTVRU
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/02/27/37627.html