Russia weakened its military presence in Transcaucasia

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The Russian Defense Ministry loudly and proudly announced the withdrawal of Russian forces from Georgia ahead of schedule. Along with this, Commander of the North Caucasian Military District Army, General Alexander Baranov, emphasized that “Not a single Russian soldier and not a single kilogram of materiel will remain in Georgia until December 1.” Baranov added that the troops have been withdrawn from Georgia since 2005. According to Baranov, 43 trains and 38 automotive columns evacuated more than 1,500 pieces of military hardware and more than 5,000 tons of material to Russia and Armenia from the 12th military base in Batumi and the 62nd military base in Akhalkalaki. He said, “The last train with armament and hardware of the Russian army will be shipped from Georgia to Armenia on November 15.” According to Baranov, six remaining objects will be handed over to the Georgian party until the beginning of December.

Thus, the largest group of Russian forces was liquidated in Georgia in two years. Making the decision on the liquidation of the group of Russian forces in Transcaucasia, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that this would not increase military threats and would have no negative impact on Russia’s geopolitical interests. Meanwhile, according to independent experts, this is not so. Lieutenant General Yury Netkachev, former deputy commander of the group of Russian forces in Transcaucasia, says that being present in Georgia Russia, first, hindered NATO in striving for eastward expansion. Second, Russian forces were a factor of stability because they were stationed in the Armenian-speaking region in Akhalkalaki and in “rebellious” Adzharia on the border with Turkey. They provided jobs to the population and sometimes served as a hindering factor in confrontation with Georgian authorities from Tbilisi.

Netkachev says, “We do not have this now.” Georgia declares Russia to be its main enemy and blames Moscow for all social problems of the country. NATO is already coming to rescue the regime of Saakashvili that has liquidated democratic liberties in the country and implemented a regime of emergency. Thus, at a press conference in Tbilisi in the afternoon of November 13, Mathiew Braiza, deputy aide to the US Secretary of State, disagreed that the latest events in Georgia would have a negative impact on the process of the country’s integration into NATO. Braiza said, “Some of our interlocutors ask if the latest events in Georgia can hinder the entrance of the country into NATO. While Georgia does not distance itself from the NATO membership and from the transition to the membership action plan, we disagree that there may be some obstacles.”

Braiza remarked, “Georgia is preparing for elections. If these elections are just and free, why should there be any question?” He concluded, “Participation in NATO expansion is open for every country that complies with criteria of the alliance like security, military reforms, democratic level of development, etc.”

In turn, in his interview to Russia Today television company on the eve of the meeting of the chiefs of general staffs of the 26 NATO member states that opened in Brussels on Tuesday, Chief of the Russian General Staff, Yury Baluevsky, stated that NATO countries “are to blame for the recent aggravation of the situation in Georgia.”

Baluevsky stated, “the worsening situation near the southern borders of Russia is beneficial for NATO.” He added that the volume of defense expenditures of Georgia exceeding $800 million “does not correspond to the current situation in the country” and drew a conclusion about the aid coming from abroad.

Thus, officials of the Russian Defense Ministry evidently already understand that NATO poses a military threat to Russia. Hence, they indirectly agree with the conclusion that withdrawal of Russian forces from Georgia will accelerate its acceptance to NATO.

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