The messenger logo

Dagestan road sets off alarms in Georgia

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, October 15
News that Russia is building a road connecting Dagestan with Georgia has caused some alarm in Georgia.

The issue of building the route has been put forward several times in the past. However, the idea was quickly shelved each time, as Russia took no practical steps in this regard. Nevertheless, it appears that Russia is hastily building the road on its territory.

According to the Russian media, the restoration of the roads at the Dagestani section of Russian border with Georgia road began on July 2, 2014. This road was closed in 1992.

As head of Dagestan Auto Door, Zagid Khuchbarov explained that 30 billion rubles will be spent on building the Avaro-Kakheti road section. According to Khuchbarov, Ramzan Abdulatipov, the President of Dagestan, is paying a great deal of attention to this project.

According to the press service of the Dagestani Motorway Department Andrei Bondarev, the length of the Avaro-Kakheti motorway will be 83 km, and the route should overpass three mountains for which 25 bridges and 5 tunnels will be required.

Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze admits that the Russian side has not addressed the ministry with any official note over the issue. She stresses that Georgian and Russian special envoys will meet soon and the issue might be raised there.

Deputy Foreign Minister Davit Jalaghania states that the restoration of the route might put the country’s security at risk, as the road is on the Georgian border.

“The road is in the interest of Russia first of all. However, the issue has never been discussed in any format between the two states,” Jalaghania said.

Georgia’s Special Envoy to Russia Zurab Abashidze states that the issue will be discussed if it is set by Russia. He refrained from discussing Georgia’s approach to the issue. Abashidze said that if pushed forward, the topic will be discussed by the government.

Minister of Economy Giorgi Kvirikashvili could see positives in the re-opening of the road. According to him, from the economic point of view, the route will bring benefits in terms of increasing the turnover between Georgia and Russia.

However, the UNM feels the road represents a threat to Georgia’s security. According to Nika Rurua, the road might become a precondition for Georgia’s splitting into parts. Fellow MP Davit Darchiahsvili claims that Russia never builds roads only for economic aims. “It is widely known that a major target for Russia is spreading its influence on other nations and such roads are only levers to serve this goal,” Darchiashvili says.

Many Georgians remember the Soviet era when the issue of building a tunnel connecting Russia (North Ossetia) with Georgia (South Ossetia), became a topic of hot debate in the Georgian media. Some warned about the threats which unfortunately became true later when Georgia gained independence. Russia used the rout not for peaceful purposes, but to unleash a military attack against Georgia.