The situation in the Caucasus can soon get escalated. According to the statement made by Alexander Shlyakhturov, head of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Russian General Staff (known for the Russian initials as GRU), there is a possibility that Georgia may attack South Ossetia and Abkhazia again.
“The current Georgian authorities do not just refuse to recognize the sovereignty of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, but are trying in every way to return these countries that have become independent to their jurisdiction,” Shlyakhturov said at a press conference.
“You have to add to this the unpredictability of attempts by the Georgian leadership, headed by [President Mikhail] Saakashvili, which may give in to temptation to use force to tame these obstinate republics as they did last year,” emphasized the high-ranking officer.
He said that Georgian aggression against South Ossetia a year ago was a risky undertaking. Georgia chose to act without calculating possible outcomes.
Now the worst case scenario might be on the agenda again. “Georgia is restoring its military potential with the help of foreign countries that supply arms and military equipment to Georgia,” Shlyakhturov explained.
“We have information that Georgia still receives military aid from NATO countries, namely, Israel and Ukraine, as it was before the events that took place in August of 2008. NATO member countries, Eastern-European members in particular, supply Georgia with small arms and military equipment. The USA is training Georgian officers in compliance with NATO tactics, Israel is supplying pilotless planes to Georgia, and Ukraine is supplying heavy equipment such as tanks and air defense equipment.”
Shlyakhturov paid special attention to military equipment supplied by Ukraine. He emphasized that it was not the government that supplied Georgia with weapons, although Ukrainian officials knew about the supplies and provided some aid.
Another member of the Russian General Staff whose name was not released said that weapon supplies to Georgia speak about treachery and double-dealing of Ukrainian officials. He added that Ukraine’s high-ranking officials, including President Viktor Yushchenko, publicly speak about their intentions to develop friendship and strategic partnership with Russia while secretly sending heavy weapons and equipment to Georgia.
He concluded that such actions of the Ukrainian government push uncontrollable Georgian regime towards new military actions in the Caucasus. These actions might bring new human losses and cause sharp destabilization in the region.
How realistic is a possibility of Georgia’s new attack against South Ossetia and Abkhazia? Pravda.ru interviewed General Leonid Ivashov , former chief of the military cooperation department at the Russian Federation ’s Ministry of Defense , to find out.
“It is sad that GRU released this information. General Shlyakhturov’s statement should be taken seriously due to several reasons. The amount of weapons supplied to Georgia by Ukraine and Israel is so large that the balance of forces in a possible war situation would not be in Russia’s favor.
Winter is a convenient season for war operations. The Georgian Army may try to block the Roksky tunnel connecting South and North Ossetia. Because of the snow in the mountains and avalanches, it would take Russian reinforcement a long time to arrive.
Only a small part of the Russian brigade is stationed in South Ossetia, and it is outnumbered by the Georgian Army. These circumstances may get Mikhail Saakashvili too excited.
The President of Georgia has political reasons for waging a new war. First of all, a new war would allow him to justify himself before his Western sponsors, in particular, the USA. Second, it will give him a chance to justify himself before his own people, because the opposition is craving his blood and the Georgian society needs unity.
There is information that last year Saakashvili had a tribune prepared for him for a military parade in Tskhinvali. His dream did not come true, but he obviously did not give up on it.
Is Russia capable of preventing a new war? Yes, it is. To prevent it, Russia has to utilize the entire arsenal of available means, both political and military.
Political means would involve raising the issue of Georgia’s weaponization in international organizations, first of all, the United Nations and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe. Saakashvili’s plans have to be revealed. Russia has a good trump card in its hands since Georgia was named the main aggressor in the last year’s war in a report of the EU committee.
On the military side, we have to increase the number of Russian soldiers in South Ossetia and Abkhazia to make it comparable with the numbers of the Georgian Army. Saakashvili would hardly likely attack a strong army, and the war would be prevented.