On military budgets of Transcaucasian countries

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The Voenno-Promyshlenny Kuryer (VPK) newspaper analyzed military expenditures of the post-Soviet states. The conclusion is disheartening: these expenditures are growing and military conflicts are quite likely in Transcaucasia, first of all, in Georgia. On what are conclusions of VPK based? The newspaper writes that Tbilisi is going to solve the problems of Abkhazia and South Ossetia by forceful methods. Along with this, Georgia increases its armed forces. According to VPK, “In comparison to 2005, military expenditures of Georgia grew almost tenfold, whereas the GDP of the country grew only by one-third.” Year 2008 is not an exception. In 2008, military expenditures of Georgia will amount to $600 million or 4.95% of the forecasted GDP. The newspaper quotes Army General Yury Baluevsky, Chief of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, who has frequently stated in the open that Georgia is preparing for combat operations against Abkhazia and South Ossetia. At this point it is necessary to bear in mind that Georgia receives certain military aid from NATO countries, for example, the US. Judging by experience, it is possible to say that the military budget of Georgia is not final yet and in 2008 it may be possible corrected towards increase. This already happened in 2006 and in 2007.

Internal political contradictions add spice to the military plans of Georgia. On the one hand, Western countries want democracy from the ruling regime in the form of Mikhail Saakashvili. On the other hand, the regime of Saakashvili is incapable of it and the NATO and the US support him as if a priority. This was manifested eloquently in support of the results of voting in Georgia during the presidential elections.

Mathew Braiza, deputy aide to the US Secretary of State, announced, “We think that elections in Georgia have passed in accordance with the main standards of democratic elections. The Council of Europe and the OSCE confirmed this. We agreed with the European Union and the mission of international observers that these were real competitive presidential elections in the history of Georgia. This is a very important statement, although there are some breaches that should be corrected and investigated.” Along with this, Braiza says that parliamentary elections in Georgia “should pass in a more just way” than the presidential ones.

Incidentally, together with the presidential elections, the population of Georgia also expressed its will about membership of the country in the NATO. There were no surprises at this point to. On January 5, about two-thirds of the citizens of Georgia who came to the polling stations voted for joining to the NATO. This is nothing to sneeze at. Thus, we see very well that Georgia is the first of the post-Soviet countries of Transcaucasia that has outlined its military political goals clearly and these goals will be against the interests of Russia in the region.

So, two scenarios towards Georgia are possible in 2008. The first scenario is connected with conclusions that there will be no war there. The second scenario is harsher. It implies that, first, in 2008 Georgia will possibly take certain military steps towards its breakaway territories. Second, these steps will be indirectly supported by the US and the NATO, although the NATO will hardly wish to admit Georgia.

Judging by statistical data, there are indirect signs of the preparation of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan. Problems of Nagorno-Karabakh are not solved and are actually at a standstill. Hence, Baku releases belligerent statements saying that territorial problem of the country may be solved by force. In comparison to 2005, military expenditures of Azerbaijan in the budget of the country are increased almost by 300%. However, due to the rapid growth of the country’s GDP, the share of expenditures on national defense needs in Azerbaijan remains almost permanent and fluctuates between 3.6% and 3.8% of the GDP. Meanwhile, for Armenia the share of defense expenditures is more noticeable. Whereas in 2005 Armenia spent 2.95% of the GDP on defense, in 2008 this share would amount already to 3.7%. Along with this, in absolute terms the military budget of Armenia grew only by 200% in comparison to 2005.

Thus, it is possible that military conflicts may begin in Transcaucasia in 2008. Among the restraining factors may be the stance of Russia that is not going to allow instability near its borders and the stance of the NATO and the US that will not wish military conflicts on the routes of hydrocarbons transportation from the Caspian Sea to Europe.

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