Russian Peacekeepers Given Permission to Fight - June, 2008

Peacekeepers Given Permission to Fight

14th year for CIS forces in Abkhazia:

June, 2008

The detainment of Russian peacekeepers by Georgian police in Abkhazia has complicated the situation in the conflict zone and relations between Moscow and Tbilisi. The Russian General Staff warned Georgian authorities yesterday that the Russian soldiers have the right to self-defense and the protection of their arms under a decision of the Council of Heads of State of the CIS and the mandate of the collective forces to support peace. It also warned that there may be “bloodshed” the next time there is an incident of that type. “And there is no doubt that the responsibility for these provocations and their consequences will lie completely with the Georgian side,” concluded First Deputy Chief of the General Staff Gen. Lieut. Alexander Burutin. The scandal has reached the highest levels. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili exchanged harsh words for the first time in connection with it.

Georgia was quick to respond to the Russians. “The formulation of Burutin’s statements clearly shows that the so-called peacekeepers are a party in the conflict and their activity does not serve to settle the conflict,” said head of the Georgian Defense Ministry’s department of international affairs David Nardaya. “I call upon the higher leadership of the Russian Federation to control such statements made by officials and generals and I hope that the Russian leadership holds a different position from Burutin’s opinion.”

The exchange between the countries’ militaries took place after the Russian and Georgian presidents discussed the incident in Abkhazia late Wednesday evening. It was clear from the press services of the leaders that they were unable to aright the situation. “In the discussion of the situation in the conflict zone in Abkhazia, Mikheil Saakashvili called on the Russian side to refrain from unilateral acts and to observe all necessary mandatory procedures in the transportation of ammunition,” the Georgian press service reported. “Dmitry Medvedev called impermissible the provocation in relation to the Russian peacekeepers, who are carrying out their activity in accordance with international obligations,” the Kremlin summarized, thus casting a shadow over Tbilisi’s hope that Saakashvili would develop a better relationship with the new Russian president than he had with the last one.

Georgia does not intend to return the confiscated ammunition to Russia, despite the latter’s demands. “As for the missiles, which were being transported with gross safety violations, a criminal case has been initiated on that fact. The weaponry has been confiscated and added to the material evidence in the case and can be returned only by court decision,” Shota Utiashvili, head of the Georgian Interior Ministry information department told Kommersant.


Security enhanced for Russian railway troops in Abkhazia

Russians transport missiles to Abkhazia: Georgian media:

Russia has enhanced the security of its railway troops in Georgia's breakaway republic of Abkhazia following two blasts at a railroad platform in the suburbs of the republic's capital, Sukhumi, a military official said on Wednesday. "Our troops were not hurt in the explosions," he said. "The security of our railway troops has been tightened." The first blast occurred at 17:35 local time (13:35 GMT), the second following seven minutes later. An investigation has been launched. Abkhazian police suspect the incident could have been a terrorist attack aimed at Russian railroad troops. Moscow announced the deployment of around 300 unarmed railroad troops in the self-proclaimed republic on May 31 to repair railroad tracks. The deployment met a furious reaction from Georgia, which accused Moscow of preparing for military intervention. The Russian Defense Ministry said last week an attempt to carry out a terrorist act on June 13 along a section of the Tamysh-Ochamchira track was aimed against railroad troops in Abkhazia. Relations between Russia and Georgia have been strained in recent months ever since Russia stepped up support for Abkhazia and South Ossetia, another breakaway Georgian republic. Tbilisi has accused the Kremlin of plans to annex the territories. Georgia's bid to join NATO has also been a cause of tension. Abkhazia broke away from Georgia in the early 1990s following the collapse of the Soviet Union. Between 10,000 and 30,000 people were killed in the subsequent hostilities. The two sides signed a ceasefire in 1994 in Moscow. Peace talks between Abkhazia and Georgia broke off in July 2006 when Tbilisi sent troops into Abkhazia's Kodori Gorge and established an alternative Abkhaz administration there.


Russian Demands Georgia Return Missiles

The Russian Defense Ministry has demanded that Georgia immediately return a Russian peacekeeping automobile and ammunition seized on Tuesday in the Georgia-Abkhazia conflict zone. The automobile and ammunition of the Russian peacekeepers seized in a criminal manner by the enforcement structures of Georgia in the conflict zone should be returned to the peacekeepers immediately,” said Igor Konashenkov, aide to the chief commander of the Russian infantry. onashenkov said that 20 antitank missiles, which are the standard ammunition for the antitank battalion of the peacekeeping forces were taken from Zugdidi District of Georgia. Konashenkov noted that both sides in the conflict have tanks divisions. Four Russian peacekeepers were detained on Tuesday in Georgia’s Zugdidi District by unknown men. An investigation by the mixed command found that two cars with civilian license plates blocked the car in which Russian peacekeepers were carrying the ammunition within the conflict zone at about 6:30 p.m. The peacekeepers were held at machinegun-point by two men in civilian clothes for 20 minutes. Then police and a Georgian television crew arrived and the peacekeepers were disarmed and taken to the police station. The Russian Defense Ministry praised the behavior of the peacekeepers, who, it said, did not give in to provocation to escalate the incident. A spokesman for the police district in Samegrelo told RIA Novosti information agency that four Russian peacekeepers were interrogated for nine hours, then released to a mixed command representative. Their cargo was confiscated. Georgian authorities say that 35 crates of various forms of ammunitions were taken. They included guided missiles and antitank mines. There is no agreement to use those weapons in the conflict zone, the Georgians said.


Georgia frees four Russian troops after arms-smuggling arrest

Georgian police released on Wednesday four Russian peacekeepers detained on Tuesday night allegedly smuggling arms out of breakaway Abkhazia, police said on Wednesday. Relations between Russia and Georgia have been further strained in recent months, since Russia stepped up support for Abkhazia and sent more troops into the region. Tbilisi has accused the Kremlin of plans to annex the territory. "The four detainees were freed after nine hours of questioning," police said. "They were given back their automatic weapons and passports. The military cargo was confiscated." Georgia's Interior Ministry said on Tuesday that the peacekeepers were transporting 35 crates of munitions, including guided missiles and anti-tank mines. "This type of arms is not allowed in the conflict zone. This is a violation of existing agreements," police said on Wednesday. Mamuka Kurashvili, a senior Defense Ministry official, said: "The Russians made an attempt to create a kind of military base at their headquarters in the Georgian district of Zugdidi, but we will not allow this to happen." Georgia's Interior Ministry said police were continuing the investigation. Russia's Defense Ministry said on Tuesday the arrest was "in violation of all regulatory norms in the buffer zone." Russia has reacted angrily to arrests of its military personnel in the former Soviet republic. Georgia's brief detention of Russian officers on spying charges in 2006 resulted in a postal and transport blockade that was only lifted this year. Moscow has denied Tbilisi's accusations of seeking to annex Abkhazia and condemned Georgia's policy toward the restive region as conducive to new bloodshed. Georgia under the Western-leaning President Mikheil Saakashvili has sought to join NATO, the plans that have fueled tensions in relations with Russia.


Russia warns Georgia detaining peacekeepers may end in bloodshed

Georgia releases Russian peacekeepers accused of smuggling:

A Russian General Staff official warned Georgia on Thursday that the patience of Russian peacekeepers was running out and any further detentions could end in bloodshed. The warning comes amid the detention Tuesday night of four Russian peacekeepers by Georgian police on suspicion of smuggling weapons out of the breakaway region of Abkhazia. The peacekeepers have since been released. "The consequences might be extremely serious, such as bloodshed," said Lt. Gen. Alexander Burutin, a deputy head of the General Staff, adding that there were no guarantees that Russian troops stationed in the region would continue to be so tolerant. The peacekeepers were detained by Georgian police supervised by a deputy head of a crime police unit in the Zugdidi district, western Georgia. Burutin said the detention was unwarranted and called it "a bandit attack."

"Under the circumstances, the Russian peacekeepers had the complete right to use their weapons and ammunition, to defend themselves and their equipment," the official said. He said the right was contained in the mandate of the Collective Peacekeeping Forces, stationed in the region since a bloody Georgian-Abkhazian conflict in the early 1990s. But Georgia's deputy foreign minister said peacekeepers' operations were restricted by their mandate. "Russia must realize Georgia's consent is needed for moving through its territory," Grigol Vashadze said. "As to threatening bloodshed, Georgia permanently hears this from its northern neighbor. The only thing I can say is that we are not afraid, so they [the Russians] can try if they want," he said. Georgia's Interior Ministry claimed that the peacekeepers were transporting 35 crates of munitions, including guided missiles and anti-tank mines. Georgia refused to return the seized arms until an investigation has been completed. "A criminal probe has been launched and we cannot return the confiscated equipment to Russia before the investigation is completed," said Shota Utiashvili, the head of the ministry's analytical department.

A Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman earlier said the detention violated all existing norms. "This was done in violation of all regulations, in particular, the peacekeeping force mandate," Andrei Nesterenko said. He also said that moves like this were aimed at worsening bilateral relations and that a host of recent incidents in Abkhazia had been staged by Tbilisi to this purpose. Georgia broadcast film footage of the Russian peacekeepers being dragged from their truck and disarmed by people dressed in civilian clothes. Relations between Russia and Georgia have been strained in recent months ever since Russia stepped up support for Abkhazia and South Ossetia, another breakaway Georgian republic, and sent more troops into the region. Tbilisi has accused the Kremlin of plans to annex the territories. Georgia's bid to join NATO has also caused tension. Georgia's brief detention of Russian officers on spying charges in 2006 resulted in a postal and transport blockade that was only lifted earlier this year.


Georgia: Bowing to Russia in the Absence of Aid


Georgia has begun working to mollify Russia by bowing on some key contentious issues between the two countries. The change is reportedly due to the realization within Georgia that the West will not be riding to Georgia’s rescue anytime soon.


There has been a growing realization inside of Georgia — specifically within the Caucasian country’s government — that Georgian membership in NATO will not be happening anytime soon and that the West is not coming to the rescue in the face of aggressive Russian actions, according to Stratfor sources in Tbilisi. Since this reality — which seems to have dawned on the rest of the world some time ago — has begun sinking in, Tbilisi has been moving toward staving off Russian pushback on the pro-Western country by bowing on some key issues.

Georgia’s hopes were dashed in April, when the country was not extended an invitation to join NATO mainly due to the efforts of France and Germany, which did not want to face Russian anger over the proposed membership of the former Soviet republics of Georgia and Ukraine. The issue will return to the table in December, when NATO holds another summit. Even so, the steam behind Georgia’s westward push seems to have run out, with most of its champions in the West turning a deaf ear to Tbilisi’s cries of supposed Russian aggressions.

Georgia’s pleas for aid in the face of Russia’s moves are being disregarded mainly because the West and NATO cannot really get to the small country. Georgia is too far from Europe and folded too deeply in the Caucasus beneath Russia; and for the West or NATO to advance that far would be a serious move against Russia’s geopolitical position. The West — especially the United States — most likely will use the threat of folding Georgia into NATO against Russia again in the future, but the threat will not carry as much weight the next time around.

This does not mean that Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili will not continue to strive to move his country Westward or to make anti-Russian remarks. But he has realized his Western goals are dead in the short term, and, therefore, Tbilisi needs to find its own means of staving off Russia’s push to control the former Soviet state.

Two small gestures have attested to this reality. First, Tbilisi has ordered a new ambassador to Russia: former journalist Erosi Kicmarishvili. He has never worked in diplomatic services, but has served as Saakashvili’s public relations chief. Ever since the appointment, Kicmarishvili has been trumpeting great Georgian-Russian relations and friendship on both countries’ airwaves.

Second, Georgia’s response to its secessionist region of Abkhazia has changed. Russian troops protect Abkhazia — a constant battleground between Tbilisi and Moscow. But in early June, Georgia announced it would cease its unmanned drone flights over Abkhazia as a “sign of good faith.” Moreover, the Georgian government has proposed the possibility of creating a post of vice president inside of Georgia that would go to an Abkhazian, a move that would allow Abkhazia a say in all Georgian legislation on Abkhazia, as well as over quite a bit of Georgian legislation. But Abkhazia does not seem interested in Georgia’s proposals, knowing it has the upper hand at the moment.

Tbilisi has made similar proposals to Abkhazia and Russia in the past; but, this time, circumstances are different for Georgia, which knows it does not have any other options beyond reviving past propositions as it seeks to figure out how to coexist with a country it deeply despises. Meanwhile, Moscow will have to decide if it is content with simply seeing Tbilisi folding on issues it has trumpeted for the past few months — or if it is ready to take advantage of an isolated and deserted Georgia and continue seeking to squelch its neighbor’s pro-Western sentiments.


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Arevordi will be taking a sabbatical to tend to personal matters. New blog commentaries will henceforth be posted on an irregular basis. The comments board however will continue to be moderated on a regular basis.

The last 20 years or so has also helped me see Russia as the last front against scourges of Westernization, Globalism, American expansionism, Zionism, Islamic extremism and pan-Turkism. I have also come to see Russia as the last hope humanity has for the preservation of classical western civilization, Apostolic Christianity and the traditional nation-state. This realization compelled me to create this blog in 2010. Immediately, this blog became one of the very few voices in the vastness of cyberia that dared to preach about the dangers of Globalism and the Anglo-American-Jewish alliance, and the only voice preaching the strategic importance of Armenia remaining within Russia's orbit. From about 2010 to 2015 I did monthly, at times weekly, commentaries about Russian-Armenian relations and Eurasian geopolitics in general. It was very difficult as I had no assistance in this endeavor. The time I put into this blog therefore came at the expense of work and family. But a powerful feeling inside me urged me to keep going; and I did.

When Armenia finally joined the EEU and integrated its armed forces into Russia's military structures a couple of years ago, I finally felt a deep sense of satisfaction and relaxation, as if a very heavy burden was lifted off my shoulders. I finally felt that my personal mission was accomplished. I therefore felt I could take a step back, as I really needed the rest. Simply put: I have lived to see the institutionalization of Russian-Armenian alliance. Also, I feel more confident now that Armenians are collectively recognizing the strategic importance of Armenia's ties with Russia. Moreover, I feel satisfied knowing that, at least on a subatomic level, I had a hand in the outcome. As a result, I feel a strong sense of mission accomplished. I therefore no longer have the urge to continue as in the past. In other words, the motivational force that had propelled me in previous years has been gradually dissipating because I feel that this blog has lived to see the realization of its stated goal. Going forward, I do not want to write merely for the sake of writing. Also, I do not want to say something if I have nothing important to say. I feel like I have said everything I needed to say. Henceforth, I will post seasonal commentaries about topics I find important. I will however continue moderating the blog's comments section on a regular basis; ultimately because I'm interested in what my readers have to say and also because it's through readers here that I am at times made aware of interesting developments.

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