In the militarist heat

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Despite the friendly steps of Moscow addressed to Tbilisi and restarting direct international and mail communication between Russia and Georgia, it seemed that the regime of Saakashvili fell into agony. Militarist rhetoric is present in the words of Georgian leaders again and Tbilisi is evidently prepared to spoil relations both with Russia and with its “conflict territories” further. The situation is aggravated by the circumstances connected with the two reconnaissance drones down by Abkhaz air defense forces on May 4 above populated spots Dikhazurga and Bargyab of the Galsky District. On April 20 and on March 18, armed forces of the unrecognized republics already destroyed such drones. After that the UN Security Council discussed this situation. Although no resolutions have been issued about this, the international community has condemned and condemns the provocative actions of Georgia in general.

Meanwhile, this circumstance does not prevent Tbilisi from reinforcing its troops in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict. According to information from Sukhumi, Georgia is moving to the Upper Kodori armament, fuel and lubricants, food and other materiel, as well as personnel of its armed forces. The overall strength of the army and police units of Georgia in the upper part of the Kodori Gorge already exceeds 1,500 servicemen. The Russian Foreign Ministry remarks that “Analysis of the composition of security agencies present in this region enables us to draw a conclusion about the preparation of a bridgehead for beginning of a military operation against Abkhazia.” Along with this, it is reported that besides the police of the “government of Abkhazia in exile” in the Upper Kodori, are also units of Georgian special forces, criminal and patrol police of the regions of Samegrelo and Zemo Svanetia, counterintelligence and servicemen of the Defense Ministry of Georgia. There is also artillery there (several 122-mm guns and mortars).

Evidently understanding the possibility of an invasion of Georgian forces into Abkhazia, Russia reinforced the peacekeeping contingent there. Foreign Minister of Abkhazia, Sergei Shamba, reported that quantity of the peacekeepers was increased to the limits implied by the Moscow agreement on ceasefire and separation of the parties of May 14 of 1994. Shamba added that in accordance with this document there should be 3,000 servicemen in the conflict zone, whereas only about 2,000 Russian soldiers had been serving there for all 14 years. Shamba emphasized that “increase of the quantity of the peacekeepers does not breach the basic ceasefire agreement.”

Shamba said, “The Abkhaz party frequently requested an increase of the quantity of Russian peacekeepers to the quantity implied by the Moscow agreement.” Along with this, he stressed that in case of the appearance of a threat of war, the mandate of Russian peacekeepers made provisions for separation of the warring parties and hence “authorities of Abkhazia welcome increase of the quantity of the peacekeepers.”

Shamba emphasized, “This gives a bigger assurance of security.” ITAR-TASS reported that due to worsening of the situation in the zone of the Georgian-Abkhaz conflict, the command of the Russian peacekeepers arranged 15 additional observation posts there.

Meanwhile, Saakashvili insists that he is right. Commenting on the reinforcement of the peacekeeping contingent and dropping of the regime of sanctions against Abkhazia and South Ossetia by Russia, Saakashvili accused Russia of an attempt to change the world order. With regard to the Georgian aircraft appearing in the sky of Abkhazia frequently lately, he has said that Georgian aircraft have flown, fly and will fly above this territory.

The President of Georgia announced, “We have warned the UN and are going to continue such ordinary flights that provide for our security without limitation in the future.” Speaking about the role of the Russian peacekeepers in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Saakashvili stated that “Everything that has happened pushes us towards revising the expedience of the presence of the Russian peacekeepers in the two conflict zones. We start consultations about the withdrawal of the Russian peacekeepers from the conflict zones.”

Such a stance shows that Saakashvili aggravates the conflict deliberately. Along with this, people from his government have even a more belligerent mood. State Minister for Reintegration Issues Teimuraz Yakobashvili announced frankly recently that it would take the army of Georgia just three hours to settle the score with Abkhazia. Speaking about the risk of restarting of a war in the conflict zone, Yakobashvili said that “it is sufficiently big.”

Meanwhile, Russian politicians expressed their opinion about this problem too. Thus, Duma members express regret about the “aggressive and hysterical rhetoric” of Georgian authorities addressed to Russia.

Leonid Slutsky, senior deputy chair of the parliamentary committee for international affairs, stated, “Tbilisi does not see the stretched hand of Moscow and evidently tries to completely destroy relations between the fraternal nations.”

Speaking about the strategy of actions between Moscow and Tbilisi, Russian politicians do not think that it is necessary to recognize the independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia at once. According to Vadim Gustov, chair of the committee for CIS affairs of the Federation Council, the matter of recognition of independence of these territories “should not be turned into a kind of campaign but it is necessary to work systematically.” Their recognition by Russia “would raise a number of difficult political and economic issues and problems including such problems on the international level.” Gustov added that this would be “an effective but not efficient solution.” Another Federation Council member, Vasily Duma, agrees with Gustov. Duma said that in its resolution in response to the application of the unrecognized republics, the Federation Council would focus primarily on the economic and regional component of relations between Russia and South Ossetia and Abkhazia and not on the political one “because the matter is about the provision of humanitarian and economic aid to almost 100,000 citizens of Russia living on these territories.”

Thus, the regime of Saakashvili started speaking about military revenge to Abkhazia and South Ossetia again. He is going to oust the Russian peacekeepers from these republics and to resolve the conflicts with assistance of weapons. In response to provocative actions of Tbilisi, Moscow takes reserved steps aimed primarily at maintenance of peace on the “disputed territories” and humanitarian support of the citizens living on them.

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