The Russian Military Buildup Continues

Russian "piece-keeper"

Every year, during the summer campaigning season (July-September), Putin will be ready to try something. He may even try to finish his invasion of Georgia, as many of his war aims remain unfulfilled:

•Prevent Georgia from further cooperation with the West (NATO and the EU).
•The removal of the democratically elected president Mikheil Saakashvili.
•Turn Georgia into a subservient (or client) state, like Ukraine.
•The control of the oil/gas pipelines running through Georgia.
•The crippling and embargo of Georgia’s economy (if they do not comply with Putin’s demands; especially to install a pro-Russian leader).
•The destruction, or subservience, of Georgia’s military forces.

“The newest report from the always-worth-reading International Crisis Group, on South Ossetia, has a good rundown of the latest military developments in the breakaway territory. Relying mainly on Russian and Ossetian sources, rather than on Georgian ones, it nevertheless paints a picture of a pretty serious buildup that will give Georgia real reasons to worry:

The 4th military brigade of the Russian army, officially 3,800 troops, is currently responsible for South Ossetia. It is located in Tskhinvali, Java and the village of Kanchaveti, in Akhalgori. Crisis Group has been told of the construction of an additional military base in the village of Sinaguri, close to the administrative boundary on the west. Reportedly, a smaller unit is deployed in Kurta, a former ethnic Georgian village. These bases, on high hills, give Russia the potential to dominate substantial parts of eastern and western Georgia.

While control of Akhalgori might not have special value for the de facto authorities, it is only 50 km. from Tbilisi, so of high strategic value for Moscow. Backed up with tanks, artillery, multiple rocket launchers and air defence systems, it poses a serious threat to the Georgian capital, as well as to the east-west highway, which Russian troops seized in the 2008 war, in effect dividing the country. Georgian experts estimate that the same operation could now be carried out in one hour. By thus solidifying its presence, Russia may also be able to keep a closer eye on parts of its own restive North Caucasus territories.

Russia has also been restoring and building transportation routes that have potential for dual civilian-military use. It plans to spend 35 billion roubles ($1.2 million) on rehabilitation of the trans-Caucasian highway (TRANSCAM) and the Roki Tunnel (scheduled to be finished in 2012).

Preliminary estimates say road rehabilitation in South Ossetia will cost 10 billion roubles ($325 million). A new road between South and North Ossetia through the disputed Mamison Pass has also been discussed. Russia announced a tender to build heliports in Java and Akhalgori.

Moscow has deployed an estimated 900 border troops along South Ossetia’s administrative boundary with the rest of Georgia, replacing Ossetian security forces. On request from the de facto authorities, Russian experts are currently helping to demarcate the “state borders”, despite strong Georgian protests. Twenty frontier posts that are being built, not least to monitor Georgian military communications and movements, are expected to be completed by 2011.”

‘Inside the Russian buildup in South Ossetia’

‘South Ossetia: The Burden of Recognition’

17 June, 2010


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: