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Russian military bases in Georgia

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, August 4
Russia has had military bases in Georgia since the end of the 18th century. In 1999 at the Istanbul OSCE summit Russia undertook a commitment to withdraw its military bases from Georgia. The document was signed by President Yeltsin, who soon after resigned in favour of the KGB's man Putin, who conducted himself in a very different manner. During the start of the 21st century Russia continued to withdraw some of its military bases from Georgia promising that by the end of 2008 there would be no Russian military bases on Georgian territory. What happened in August 2008 is well known. Russia occupied Georgia’s territory, separatists declared their independence, Moscow immediately recognized these territories as independent entities, signed so-called bilateral agreements with these entities and since then has been building its military presence on the Georgian territories of Abkhazia and the Tskhinvali region, thus violating all its commitments under international law, stubbornly citing a so-called ‘new reality’ as an excuse. The Kremlin's conduct is at the same time both cynical and dangerous. It shows the world that Moscow does not care about breaking its promises, that it is unreliable partner and it will commit any kind of act to achieve its goals. The international community considers the presence of the Russian military on Georgian territories as illegal. The US state department's published statement mentioned that the presence of Russian forces on Georgian territory is illegal. The Russian foreign ministry cynically responded that there are no Russian soldiers on Georgian territory implying that the Russian soldiers are located in territories of the supposed sovereign states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, which is already a cynical attempt to distort and violate international legislation.

The Georgian government demands that Moscow fulfill the terms of the signed August 12, 2008 Medvedev-Sarkozy agreement. Russia continues to ignore the demand. Moscow is experiencing problems with the local population in the occupied territories (the supposed independent states). For instance, Russian military personnel do not trust Abkhaz nationals and are not continuing the programme of equipping and training the so-called Abkhaz army. There is no need whatsoever for an Abkhaz army as Russian forces already there are more than enough.

There are about 3000 troops stationed on the Russian military bases in Abkhazian territory and there is the capacity to introduce more – up to 50 000 in one day in Abkhazia. Even when Moscow legally recognized Abkhazia as part of Georgia it did not allow international observers to enter its military base in Gudauta, which it claimed was closed. Today's situation is even worse, no international observers whatsoever are allowed to enter either Abkhazia or the Tskhinvali region territories at all and no international control mechanisms are exercised there. With its illegal occupation of the Georgian territories and concentrating its arms and soldiers there, Russia is trying to gain the military advantage in the south Caucasus over all other forces.

Of course under such circumstances, until the de-occupation of Georgian territories is on the agenda there is not even the slightest chance of Georgia becoming part of NATO, analysts believe. So, for now Russia has achieved all its goals – it has its military bases in the south Caucasus, in Georgia in particular; it has gained a military advantage against all possible players that would enter this territory and it has prevented for the time-being or forever Georgia’s entry into NATO. And the west has swallowed this pill.