S. Ossetia Wants Major Military Shift in Conflict with Georgia

TSKHINVALI, South Ossetia – The government of Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia region announced Monday plans to radically shift current military facts on the ground as they move to disband the region’s de facto military and officially incorporate it into Russia’s armed forces.

South Ossetia’s rebel president Leonid Tabilov has repeatedly spoken of the need to disband the region’s small, but heavily armed militias and officially incorporate them into the Russian military as local detachments of Moscow’s Southern Military District, which oversees Russia’s combat-ready units in the Caucasus.

The move would be a major shift in South Ossetia’s official policy of pushing its claim as an independent state. Russia currently maintains a heavy military presence in the region, while Moscow props up the local government through heavy subsidies, inflated pensions and the issuance of Russian passports to local residents.

South Ossetia’s separatists have maintained a local armed force since hostilities with Tbilisi began in the early 1990s. Tabilov and his predecessor Eduard Kokoity have long argued that the region’s military is an entirely indigenous defense force that receives no logistical or manpower support from Moscow.

The announcement comes on the heels of South Ossetia’s other plan to redefine the on going conflict between the Russian-backed secessionist government and federal authorities in Tbilisi.

Tskhinvali’s local legislature will move to ban the term Georgian-Ossetian Conflict and officially replace it with War of the Motherland.

Georgian government forces fought two wars against Russian and separatist forces in South Ossetia between 1991-2008. The wars left hundreds dead and led to the ethnic cleansing of thousands of ethnic Georgians. Moscow recognized South Ossetia as an independent state following the 2008 war.

By Nicholas Waller

01 March 2016 17:26