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USA and Russia incompatible in the Black Sea03.04.2013 | 12:49
The U.S. continues providing military and financial aid to Georgia. Recently, Georgian-US military exercises "Agile Spirit 2013" at the training ground in Vaziani completed. In the coming year, according to the Minister of Defense of Georgia, they may conduct even larger exercises involving Armenia and Azerbaijan. And Russia is holding large-scale maneuvers in the Black Sea. Is there a link between these exercises, and what do the Georgian experts think about that?
The U.S. is going to strengthen the maritime borders of Georgia - to provide financial assistance in the creation several points of border security. The cost of the project is $ 1.2 million.
The U.S. Ambassador Richard Norland and Interior Minister Irakli Garibashvili have officially held a foundation laying ceremony of a joint center for the management of marine operations in the village of Supsa near Poti. This is a unique object in the Black Sea. Control center will be engaged against trafficking and other cross-border crimes - to ensure inter-agency cooperation.
But that's not all. The U.S. has also allocated $ 6 million for the workshop for repair of ships of the Coast Guard. This object is already open.
Allocation of funds to strengthen the maritime borders of Georgia comes at a time when Russia is conducting large-scale military exercises in the Black Sea. For the first time in 20 years, the exercises were started without prior notice. They involve warships, aircrafts and amphibious units. In total about 7 thousand people.
Sudden exercises are being held in the region where less than in a year the Olympic Games in Sochi will be held, where security is declared a priority for law enforcement agencies and for the Armed Forces. Exercises have become the second in the last two months unplanned maneuvers of the Russian army.
Exercises "Surprise" have already caused concern in Georgia. The Foreign Ministry of the country believes that Russia's activities "contradict the interests of stability" in Europe, and the exercises "cannot be considered a proportional response to the anticipated threat."
"These exercises are unusual and unforeseen and they are held beyond the regular location of military units determined in accordance with the Vienna Agreement "On the strengthening of trust and security" of 2011," said in a statement.
The head of the Defense Ministry of Georgia Irakli Alasania said on Friday that he saw no "direct threat" from the Russian exercises. But Alasania added that Georgian troops should be in "constant alert." "Georgian Armed Forces must be ready to repel any aggression or prevent a possible escalation, every day we are working in this direction," he said in an interview with reporters.
"If you want peace - prepare for war," said the expert on international relations Tornike Sharashenidze. According to him, the U.S. financial assistance is aimed at the rehabilitation of the Border Guard of Georgia, which suffered during the 2008 war.
"I see no direct link between the exercises of the Russian troops in the Black Sea and the projects undertaken by the United States," Sharashenidze said in an interview to GeorgiaTimes. "These issues cannot be solved quickly. Alasania's statement about the fact that the Armed Forces should be in constant alert is also understandable. Georgia should be ready to everything, as well as other countries, including Russia, which is today carrying out such large-scale exercises," said Sharashenidze.
Expert Kakha Gogolashvili notes that the United States are simply fulfilling the obligations to Georgia, and the relevant documents have been signed by the former leadership of the country. "We cannot say that Georgia is preparing to repel an attack from Russia, especially from the sea," Gogolashvili said in an interview to GeorgiaTimes. "The U.S. military aid does not mean such an increase in the country's Armed Forces. We are rather talking about local problems. The country must have the appropriate means to combat transnational crime - smuggling of weapons, drugs, etc. As for the military maneuvers of the Russian Federation, they are definitely related to the Sochi Olympics. Moscow wants to show its readiness to respond to any challenge in order to hold the Olympics in safe. Though, in this case, it's not serious to say that Georgia or the U.S. can somehow threaten the Sochi Olympics," said Gogolashvili.
It should be recalled that while the military exercises taking place in Georgia cause a negative reaction in Russia, the exercises in Russia, especially near the border with Georgia, also raise concern of the official structures in Tbilisi. Apparently, the restoration of trust between the two countries is not close.