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How realistic is the prospect of further Russian aggression?

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, June 16
More and more political analysts, though mostly those outside Georgia, are speculating about another possible Russian military assault on Georgia. Now summer is here these speculations are also heating up, and not without reason, as there are some noticeable similarities between the situation last summer and the one we have now.

Last year NATO trainings in Georgia were followed by Russian exercises in the North Caucasus. Moscow then launched a full scale attack on Georgia at the beginning of August. This yearís NATO trainings ended at the beginning of June and right after this the Russians are again holding their own exercises in the North Caucasus. So, the similarities are clear. Ukrainian news agency Rupor, citing sources in Moscow, has even given the date of the impending attack on Georgia - June 29. It says that the Russians have not been able to remove President Saakashvili from office, and the opposition protests havenít achieved this either, so Moscow is prepared to move in to oust him. The West cannot seriously resist Russian pressure, so the Kremlinís hands are unbound.

Officially Russia has announced that its exercises, under the name Caucasus 2009, will be full scale strategic military trainings involving just under 10,000 military personnel, 200 tanks, 450 armoured vehicles and 250 units of artillery of different calibres. Tactical trainings involving 2,000 soldiers, 80 tanks, 100 armoured vehicles and 100 artillery units are also planned. They take place as Russian analysts also suggest that there will be a new war in the Caucasus. Andrey Piontkovsky, the Executive Director of the Russian Strategic Research Centre, predicts two possible wars in the region, one is Georgia and the other in the North Caucasus.

Piontkovsky thinks that some Russian soldiers and politicians feel the war against Georgia in 2008 was left unfinished, and by repeating its assault Russia will divert its populationís attention from domestic economic problems. According to some journalists the Russian population has been brainwashed into thinking that there are 40 million Georgians occupying Russian territory, thus making them out to be the enemy. According to Piontkovsky third Chechen War will also break out, and there will be little Western resistance. Since Russia annexed Abkhazia and South Ossetia it has become clear that the West cannot and does not want to defy the Kremlin in the post-Soviet space.

Former EU envoy to Georgia Denis Corboy also writes about the possibility of a Russian attack on Georgia. Corboy thinks that the introduction of Russian assault equipment such as tanks- T90s and helicopters equipped with night vision facilities to the occupied territories indirectly proves that Moscow is getting ready to launch an attack. Georgian analysts generally conclude there is little possibility of a Russian attack, but who can exclude this completely when you are dealing with Russia?

As the Russian hawks say, the conquest of Georgia was left unfinished last year. The mistakes the Russian military made can be properly analysed and thus the Russian armed forces can be much better prepared to complete their task than they were last year. We donít predict war is inevitable, but when Russia is the enemy nothing can be discounted. Russian tanks are 40 kilometres from Tbilisi.