RUSSIAN TROOPS OUT OF GEORGIA BY DECEMBER 31, 2007

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Last week, the government confirmed the project of the agreement about withdrawal of Russian military bases from the territory of Georgia presented by the Russian Federation Defense Minister. This event passed almost without any attention from the side of mass media. However, this event could be regarded as an important step for the Russian leadership, which lets determine the mechanism of withdrawal of Russian contingents from Akhalkalaki and Batumi, as well as forecast, to some extent, the policy of the Russian Federation in the Transcaucasia region.

For realization of the agreement, the Russian Federation Defense Ministry will provide 836.7 million roubles in 2006. In 2007 – 820.5 million roubles, in 2008 – 510.6 million roubles. As we see, the sums are significant – more than 2 billion roubles. However, it seems that there would be much more expenses since the withdrawn troops will have to be located in new places, and provide apartments for those who are in need etc. But they do not think about that today. The government has another task – to withdraw the troops as soon as possible.

It is of no accident that the Russian side agreed to confirm the document in a written form – to confirm that the Russian military bases in Batumi and Akhakalaki function in the terminating regime. It is noted that the withdrawl of Russian military hardware would be realized by the end of 2006. It was reported before that great part of that hardware would go to Armenia. Despite protests of Azerbaijan, the Georgian side does not interfere with that. Meanwhile, it is noted that everything will be terminated by October 1, 2007, “but in any case the date of December 31, 2007 is the limit”.

“The complete withdrawal of the Russian military base in Batumi, as well as department of the Russian troops grouping in Transcaucasia will be realized during the year 2008”, it is noted in the project of the agreement.

The Russian side is obliged not to use military bases and objects for purposes aimed against state interests of Georgia, and do not allow running shootings from all kinds of armament, excluding rifles and machine-guns in special places provided by the Georgian side. In the project’s text, it is noted that “the Russian side is obliged not to have, to store or to transact weapons of mass destruction through the territory of Georgia, as well as not to run research aimed at developing such armament”. The project of the document foresees that the agreement would be in legal force until December 31, 2008, in case “if neither side would inform the other one through diplomatic channels about its intention to stop the power of the agreement in case of its essential infringement by the other side”. In this case, the law power of the agreement ends 30 days after such declaration made.

In this way, de jure, in the project of the agreement, the obligations of the Russian side are mentioned. However, the Georgian side also have some. In the document it is noted that the Georgian side, in correspondence with the document, is to provide Russia with possibility to dispatch extra hardware needed for the process of withdrawal. In this connection, the Georgian authorities are obliged to provide the opportunity of using the air space of Georgia for aircraft of the Russian Federation Defense Ministry, as well as provide railway, road and air transportation of armament and military hardware.

At that, the Georgian side is obliged to provide a sensible vital activity and temporary functioning of the Russian military bases and objects until the termination of the withdrawal process. The project of the agreement foresees that the Georgian side will provide a simplified procedure for the Navy ships arriving to Georgian ports, for removal of armament and military hardware. Aiming at control over the fulfilling of this document’s clauses, the sides are intended to establish a joint Russian-Georgian commission, which would operate in Tbilisi.

In this way, the project of the Russian-Georgian agreement in its draft variant is fascinating. Meanwhile, Russian soldiers feel themselves aliens – they do not even have visas. Official services and persons provoke them anyway they like. Presidents Vladimir Putin and Mikhail Saakashvili may terminate all this, who are to sign the coordinated law-project. However, the date of their meeting has not been fixed yet.

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