Arming Up


The deployment of an S-300 anti-aircraft missile system on the territory of occupied Abkhazia didn’t merit any special reaction from Official Tbilisi. The case of Rustavi 2 and the to-be curtailed authority of President Margvelashvili still remain the main news in the country. It is hard to explain why Tbilisi rests easy. Perhaps it is failing to assess the situation adequately. Or maybe it is a sign of panic. The fact is that Georgia is already in the C-300 siege and whenever the Kremlin decides to use its lead, it will do so.

New anti-missile systems were brought into breakaway Abkhazia on March 10 and will be installed on the territories of the Russian military bases in Ochamchire and Gali. Information has spread that the same type of systems are also to be installed in the occupied Akhalgori region. The Russian anti-missile systems in Abkhazia and those installed in the Russian military base in Gyumri, Armenia, completely cover Georgia. Strengthening the armament of the Russian military bases in Abkhazia is assessed as a “demonstration of power” by experts, who also stress that Russia is using de-facto Abkhazia for its own geopolitical interests. The former Minister of Security of Abkhazia, Levan Kiknadze, believes that Russia will import as many weapons as it wants without asking anyone for permission. “They act like this because they want to irritate us. Strengthening the armed forces on the Abkhazian territory will result in the growth of the military contingent, which also means increasing the number of Russians, something the Russian government has been looking forward to for a long time,” Kiknadze said.

The opposition believes that these actions are directly connected with the government’s imprudent policy. Giorgi Tugushi, member of the European Georgia party, disapproves of the policy the Georgian government has had with regards to Russia: “Russia violates all types of international legislative norm a well as strenghtening its military presence. This is yet another consequence of us relying on the Karasin-Abashidze format rather than that of the Geneva. In the first place our government should wake up and finally get to the conclusion that warmed relations with Russia prove fruitless. All international leverage at hand should be used as soon as possible.”

Brigadier General and military expert, Amiran Salukvadze, believes that installment of the anti-missile systems is an open reaction from the Kremlin in response to the NATO’s activities in the Black Sea region. “The fact that the Caucasus is vitally important as a region for Russia is well known and the admittance of any Caucasian country in the membership of NATO is totally unacceptable,” said Salukvadze.

Although the role of Georgia within the strategy of NATO in Black Sea Security has yet to be specified, the leaders of NATO and the government of Georgia have repeatedly stressed that Georgia will certainly engage in the process. Moreover, as the Minister of Defense of Georgia, Levan Izoria stated, Georgia has already presented specific proposals about the forms of Georgia’s engagement in Black Sea Security.

The appearance of Russian C-300 in the occupied Abkhazia is a puzzle not only for Georgia. Moscow is trying to revive the unified system of air control it had during the USSR, a serious challenge for the NATO member countries; in the first place for Turkey, but also for other states from the Black Sea region, namely Bulgaria and Romania. Bringing the C-300 anti-missile systems onto occupied Georgian lands is far from then end of this process. Russia is creating a command for its southern direction and also plans to modernize its military units in the North Caucasus, occupied Abkhazian and Tskhinvali regions and Armenia, as well as its Navy fleets in the Black and Caspian Seas.

Zaza Jgarkava

23 March 2017 20:48