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Russian hysteria continues

By Messenger Staff
Thursday, April 30
On May 6 the Vaziani military base will host NATO military training exercises which were scheduled this time last year. Such trainings have been conducted previously and on those occasions they contained no threat to any country whatsoever. They could have been held this time without them even being noticed by anyone except military experts, but Moscow’s hysterical (or maybe historical) reaction has made them international news. Russia’s reaction has been so inappropriate that the trainings have suddenly acquired a completely new different dimension and importance.

The Kremlin is trying to achieve several things simultaneously by objecting to these exercises. The first is to force NATO to retreat once again. Having forced NATO to take Moscow’s favoured decision and refuse to grant MAP to Ukraine and Georgia last April it attacked and invaded Georgia last August, so this is what happens when NATO does not stick to its “guns”. Secondly Moscow wants to make further aggressive gestures towards Georgia, and thirdly it wants to demonstrate its domination of former Soviet territory. The Kremlin needs to do these things to prove to the world who the master in the Caucasus and the former Soviet territories is.

Since the August invasion Russia has not ceased its aggression against Georgia, only modified its form and character. The current hysteria is part of this aggression and an attempt to build self-confidence, the recent Council of Europe session having demonstrated that Russia is losing Western support. On the one hand, Russia wants to exercise its claims over the region and on the other it seeks to isolate Georgia from the rest of the world, so that nobody will dare enter into any kind of military, political or strategic arrangement with Georgia because they are frightened of Moscow. That is why Russia tries to influence and threaten its neighbours, promising to take serious steps if the Kremlin’s opinion is not considered.

And although no participant country has officially refused to take part in the exercises so far, as no appropriate papers have been submitted to NATO headquarters stating this, Russia has already achieved some results. Most probably certain countries will eventually refuse to participate. Of course NATO has not cancelled, postponed or relocated the Vaziani exercises as this would have meant capitulating, but the alliance keeps repeating like a guilty boy that these trainings were scheduled a year ago. Would NATO not have planned these trainings two months ago? Would it have been a crime or illegal action if they had been scheduled recently? Does this mean that if NATO wants to hold exercises later this year or next year it should receive Russian permission first?

The situation has now become even more ridiculous. The criminal leaders of the Russian puppet regimes of so called Abkhazia and South Ossetia are daring to talk about the “aggressiveness of NATO”! Encouraged by the Russians they threaten to take “adequate measures.” Abkhazia and South Ossetia can do nothing without Russia, so we should be under no illusions of what “adequate measures” is supposed to imply.

Most probably Kazakhstan will not participate in the trainings. Ukraine’s participation is problematic and Azerbaijan and Armenia are under serious pressure. Armenia as a strategic partner of Russia is facing a dilemma: if it participates in the trainings Moscow could retaliate in the most unexpected and vigorous ways, maybe with dramatic results for Armenia. But if it withdraws it will damage its relations with the West.

As for Georgia, Russians repeatedly threaten Tbilisi with a further deterioration of the relations between the two countries. Who can guarantee that a new aggression will not be started? Provocations can be expected at any time, and the Georgian administration showed how clumsy it is during the August trap. So who can say it is not possible? This question is being put quite frequently in Georgia today and has not been answered so far.

An amateur understanding is very simple – Georgia should not have abandoned the policy of balancing exercised by former President Shevardnadze. It should not have put all its eggs in one basket, taking a clear cut pro-Western orientation, think some representatives of the Georgian population. Maybe Georgia should have refused to host the NATO trainings itself, and thus not give Moscow grounds to conduct yet another aggression.

There are many questions which have become more insistent recently. Some even think that many Western leaders have ceased making direct contact with Saakashvili simply in order not to upset Moscow. However, neither NATO nor Tbilisi wants to change their mind. The NATO exercises will be held and officially the participants should send their contingent.

Chairman of the Georgian Parliament David Bakradze has stated that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has no moral, legal or political right to dictate his will to NATO or its allies. However Moscow is simply indulging in typical Soviet politics, in time-honoured fashion, believing that best form of defence is attack. There is a week left until the start of the NATO exercises and what will Moscow do, and how principled NATO will be, are the main questions which need to be answered now.