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Russia holds snap military exercises in the Black sea region

By Ana Robakidze
Monday, April 1
The Russian Federation held large-scale, unscheduled military exercises in the Black Sea region. Neighboring countries had not been given prior notice regarding the planned drills, as it is required according to the international regulations.

The snap military exercises were ordered by the President of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, on March 28th. Dmitri Peskov, the spokesperson of the Russian president, commented that the scale of the drills and the number of the participating troops do not require Moscow to give prior notice to neighboring countries.

The Georgian side expressed its grave concern over the large-scale military exercises. Based on official Russian sources, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia informed in its official statement that up to 7,000 troops, including marines, aviation and more than 30 vessels would take part in the exercises. The ministry was concerned that "the current drills are unscheduled, unusual and go beyond the usual location of the armed forces in the spirit of the 2011 Vienna Document on Confidence and Security-Building Measures."

"Georgia is alarmed by the unexpected, provocative activity of the Russian troops, as well as by the potential use of the facilities, weaponry and/or personnel of the occupation forces of the Russian Federation within Georgia's internationally recognized borders in Abkhazia, Georgia and the Tskhinvali region. Georgia calls on the international community to redouble efforts to ensure Russia's fulfillment of the 12 August 2008 ceasefire agreement and take tangible steps towards the establishment of a credible regime of non-use of force between Georgia and Russia, underpinned by international security arrangements,” the official statement released on March 29th said.

The Minister of Defence of Georgia also commented on the large-scale Russian military exercises in the Black Sea region and said that the drills do not represent a direct threat to Georgia, though the incident prompts the Georgian side to further strengthen its attention towards the military drills. Georgia also continues its own military drills together with its U.S military partners. The minister underlined that the Russian military drills are in no way connected with the Georgian-American joint exercise. According to Alasania, foreign drills will not be an obstacle for the development of the Georgian armed forces and the joint exercises with its American partners will be continued.

“Occupational Forces stationed on the Russian-occupied territories of Georgia are not involved in the exercises. Neither have Georgian waters been violated. But the fact that the neighbor countries were not warned about the scheduled manoeuvres is an infringement of international norms. It is also noteworthy that 20% of Georgian territory is occupied by Russian forces in full violation of international law,” the Defence Minister added.

The Russian military exercises were interpreted as a demonstration of strength by many experts.

Political analyst Nika Chitadze told the Georgian service of Radio Liberty the drills were a reply to the latest resolution on the foreign policy of the country accepted by the Georgian Parliament. The Russian message informed the Georgian side that the federation will continue to act the same way and hold military exercises in the Black Sea region, unless Georgians review and change their foreign policy. The expert advises society not to have any hopes that Russians will ever compromise in their relations with the new Georgian government. vAccording to the Ria Novosti news agency, troops of Russia’s southern military district have returned to their base after taking part in the surprise Black Sea exercises. The agency spreads the information received from the military district’s press office and says that “the personnel of the southern military district’s command and control brigade that took part in the surprise check of the combat readiness of troops (forces) in the country’s south, have arrived at their permanent base in the Rostov Region, having covered a distance of over 900 km.” The exercise involved up to 7,000 military personnel, including rapid deployment, airborne and special task forces, more than 30 warships, about 250 armored vehicles, up to 20 pieces of artillery and 20 aircraft.