The messenger logo

Russia concentrates troops in northern Caucasus

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, September 28
Approximately a week ago, the Russian media started disseminating the information that troops and ammunition in huge quantities were being sent to the northern Caucasus region. Russian officials kept silent about the fact, giving no comments whatsoever. The lack of information always stimulates rumours and suppositions. So, there appeared in the Russian media some guesses that Russia might be planning an intervention into Georgia. This version is completely rejected by the most of the Georgian analysts and politicians, who consider it unrealistic and suggested that it is more likely that the Kremlin is preparing a high scale anti terrorist operation in the north Caucasus region of the Russian federation. We have been informing our readers about the increasing number of terrorist attacks in the north Caucasus, which are a challenge to the local administration in the north Caucasus as well as the entire Russian federation. Obviously these challenges need to be answered by officials and, most probably, the Russian answer will be a traditional one: To suppress any kind of activities with violent force and military activities. As a cover however, there is speculation that certain economic programmes will be implemented to reduce unemployment and tackle some acute social problems which, according to Russian officials, give grounds to terrorist activities. There is one interesting story being spread recently in the Russian media. It was reported that PM Putin endorsed the strategic plan for the development of north Caucasus. One of the measures for combating unemployment according to Putin, could be to send unemployed persons from the north Caucasus to the Urals and Siberia where would be given work and a good salary. It is suggested that such a process would be a voluntary one. However, we all remember attempts to deport North Caucasus people to Siberia resulted in ethnic cleansing in the 1940s. So it is unlikely that the north Caucasus population would appreciate such opportunities. As always, Moscow blames Georgia for its terrorist problems in the north Caucasus. According to the Kremlin and its controlled media, the terrorists are trained in Georgia and proliferate later into north Caucasus. Therefore some Russian sources consider that Russia is probably preparing an attack on the Georgian border regions. In particular, the area of Pankisi Gorge, which until recently had been sheltering some Chechen refugees who fled Russia during the second Chechen war.

Georgian MP Gia Tsagareishvili does not rule out the possibility of such provocation and he suggests taking preventative measures by informing the international community about such a threat, organizing visits of representatives of the Diplomatic Corps to Pankisi for inspection purposes and confirming that there are no terrorist training centers anywhere in the country.

Most of the Georgian analysts think that to start a military assault on Georgia, Moscow would not need to concentrate its troops in the north Caucasus as it has enough soldiers and weapons in already occupied Georgian territories of the Tskhinvali region and Abkhazia. Here we should remember the Russian Defence Ministerís Serdukov statement that Russia had enough forces to defeat Georgia in less than 5 days if necessary.

Opposition MP Nika Laliashvili also doubts the possibility of a Russian attack on Georgia, while a similar comment was made by the ruling party MP Shota Malashkhia. Since the August 2008 war, Russia has threatened Georgia many times. By doing so, Moscow on one hand tries to provoke a Georgian reaction and on the other hand test out the western response. But its main target is to discredit Georgia and deteriorate its image with allegations that Tbilisi shelters terrorists. Most of the Georgian analysts and politicians agree that to counter balance Russian moves, Georgia has to repeatedly ask international organizations to demand from Russia the fulfillment of its commitments made under the Sarkozy-Medvedev Treaty of August 12, 2008.