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The war-preventing “South” strategy2010-08-17 16:53
So much has been said and written about Georgian freedom, independence and integrity that one might think that Saakashvili is heading the "government in exile" and is directing the underground resistance from Switzerland. There is another pretext now: the Russian military base in Armenia. A storm in a teacup. What's the matter, anyway?
Two sovereign states are going to sign a protocol on prolonging the term of presence of 102nd Russian military base in Armenia. Two amendments have been made to the agreement concerning the term and purposes of presence of the Russian military base in the Armenian town of Gumri. The duration of the treaty has been extended from 25 to 45 years with tacit extension for the next five-year periods. The number of tasks set for the Russian base has also been changed: besides "exercising the functions on protecting the interests of RF", it will now ensure Armenia's security, including through the supply of "modern and compatible weapons and military and special equipment" to Yerevan.
As a military object, 102nd Russian military base includes three motorized rifle regiment, an artillery regiment, an air defense regiment, a separate tank battalion and a separate reconnaissance battalion. The aviation group located at an airdrome in Erebuni includes 18 MiG-29 battle-planes. In aggregate, there are about one hundred tanks, three hundred armored vehicles, artillery systems and air defense missile systems of various types. Base personnel amounts to about four or five thousand people located at military camps in Gumri and Yerevan. This group of Russian troops has got the task of covering Russia's southern flank and defending Armenia as a party to Collective Security Treaty.
Besides, permanent presence in the South Caucasus enables to influence the military and political situation in the region that may become a center of bloody encounters, which falls within the plans of neither Washington, nor Georgia.
Expert on Russia Ariel Cohen has stated already that the "Russian-Armenian protocol makes Russia a dominating state in the South Caucasus, for U.S. and NATO are not ready for a long-term military presence in the region".
For Yerevan, our troops mean the security guarantee, so the Armenian politicians are interested in enhancing this presence. That is why, the most favorable environment has been created for the 102nd Russian military base: no rent payment for the base in Gumri, Armenia providing it with all the required public utilities. The border group of FSS of Russia consisting of 58 border outposts has been guarding the Turkish-Armenian and Turkish-Iranian border together with Armenian border guards since 1992.
There is another important point: due to prolonging the rent of the base in Gumri, Russia will be able to prevent U.S. and NATO forces deployment in the Caucasus in case of an armed conflict with Iran. That is what the latter cannot stand, producing experts who express a pre-defined point of view.