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Caucasus with Russian gun on a tilt19.01.2012 | 11:46
The United States and Great Britain are tightening economic sanctions against Teheran and increase their military presence in the Middle East. Israel continues the hunt for Iranian nuclear scientists. In these conditions it was hard to expect Russia to remain on the sideways of a probable armed conflict near its southern borders. As a result, Russia is announcing Caucasus 2012 large-scale military drills that Tbilisi interprets as an anti-Georgian action.
Georgian authorities keep living in their own reality thinking that Moscow is focused on Mikheil Saakashvili only. Apparently, Georgian leaders are so flattered by this certainty that they forget to see obvious things.
Voices of "hawks" are getting louder in the United States calling for a missile strike on Iran's nuclear centers. "The world's central banker of terrorism will very soon become a nuclear weapons state. The only other option is to take pre-emptive military action to break Iran's program, and the odds of doing so successfully are deteriorating daily, as it hardens and deeply buries new facilities", - John Bolton, US former envoy to UN writes in USA Today. Meanwhile, Israel continues to neutralize Iranian nuclear physicists. The latest victim of Israeli special services was Mustafa Ahmadi Roshan, a 32-year-old professor at Teheran technology university and an employee at the nuclear center in Natanz.
The economic embargo against the Islamic republic is getting tougher too. Japan, one of the largest consumers of Iranian oil, has decided not to buy Iranian hydrocarbons any more. Teheran reiterates threatening to cut off the Strait of Hormuz, the most important transport artery linking oil deposits in the Middle East and consumers of black gold in the West. It is getting relly tough on the geopolitical forestage. In this context it would be really strange that Russia has not reacted to the unfolding conflict at its Southern borders. Nicolay Macarov, head of Russia's Joint Staff, has announced Moscow's intention to hold large-scale Caucasus 2012 strategic drills. Together with the Russian army there will be armed forces of Abkhazia, Armenia and South Ossetia to take part in the play-war.
Yet, bureaucrats from Tbilisi (who have never been good at foreseeing things) repeat their old song about anti-Georgian character of the announced maneuvers. Grigol Vashadze's ministry has disseminated a statement accusing Moscow of aggressive actions, arms race and attempts "to instigate a permanent state of tension in Georgia and in the Black Sea region as a whole". GTimes correspondent asks experts whether statements of the Georgian ministry of foreign affairs have any sense.
"Firstly, any troops must be trained. Field drills are a most efficient form of training. Secondly, in the region adjacent to Caucasus the USA, NATO member states as well as Israel are preparing large-scale aggression. That is why Russia must react to the threat by mobilizing the troops. That is why, basically, the drills are held in Caucasus. Since the conflict in Iran will inevitably affect all neighbors, Armenia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia with whom Russia is connected via treaties for military and political cooperation, are invited to participate", - Leonid Ivashov, head of the Russian Academy of geopolitical problems told GTimes correspondent. There is no anti-Georgian subcurrent in coming drills, he adds remarking that Tbilisi in this situation acts as a satellite of Washington seeking now to eliminate any obstacles for an aggression against Iran.
Konstantin Sivkov, doctor of military sciences, agrees with Leonid Ivashov. In a talk with GTimes correspondent he expresses certitude that the first victim of the Iranian-US conflict will be Azerbaijan. "Pressed by the States, Baku is likely to provide its territories for activities of US troops against Iran. In case of hostilities, Azerbaijan will receive flows of Iranian refugees. Besides, viewed as an ally of the USA, Azerbaijan may become a target for blows of Iran's armed forces. In these conditions Russia must be ready to take diplomatic, political and military measures. That is why it is necessary to hold strategic drills in Caucasus, - the expert explains. Nevertheless, Konstantin Sivkov does not exclude that Caucasus 2012 have other geopolitical targets.
"It is wrong to forget a constant threat of terrorism in Caucasus. To a certain extent, Georgia is one of its sources with Chechen militants and other criminals finding refuge in its territory. That is why the drills, inter alia, are aimed at suppressing terrorist activities in Abkhazia, South Ossetia and other parts of the Caucasian region as well as demonstrating Russia's readiness to ward off any threats to its security. Besides, Georgia is still a threat to Abkhazia and South Ossetia - independent states that were officially recognized by Russia, - the military expert reminds. - Georgia invests huge money in refitting its armed forces and I don't think it is done just to march on a parade ground in Tbilisi. That is why Russia should demonstrate strength in order to prevent a direct conflict.