5 years, 10 months ago
We have previously predicted a war between Russia and Georgia, or better described, a Russian invasion and rapid takeover of Georgia. The casus belli will be political instability, or cross border shooting at each other, or some other absurd smoke screen. The real issue will be the Russian bases in Armenia and inability to reach them without passage through Georgia. That, combined with Russian hegemony in its near abroad, will be the impetus for renewed military action. But the method in which is almost began is interesting.
Georgian police officers are seen in a truck body at a road outside Tbilisi today. Georgian troops staged a mutiny on the eve of NATO exercises in the ex-Soviet republic, which the government said it ended without violence but accused Russia of backing the rebels (Vano Shlamov / AFP / Getty Images).
Reporting from Moscow and Tbilisi, Georgia — Georgia’s president, a post-Soviet darling of the Bush administration, is already struggling with a buildup of Russian troops in breakaway territories and an angry opposition movement intent on driving him from power. Suddenly, the integrity of the armed forces is in doubt as well.
The short-lived mutiny of a tank battalion today was another reminder of the instability that has racked Georgia since it was defeated last summer in a war with Russia. President Mikheil Saakashvili rushed to negotiate with the mutineers. And he took to the airwaves to accuse Russia — whose leaders loathe him and are bitterly opposed to his hopes of joining NATO — of trying to organize a coup.
“What happened today is just a signal that the war has not ended yet,” said Alexander Rondeli, president of the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies.
The flare of insurrection was over in a few hours. The commander of the 500-member tank battalion was in custody, the base was calm, and the government had turned its attention to circulating a news release describing “the failed military mutiny.”
But the uprising further pressurized politics in the small republic in the volatile Caucasus region.
The government accused Russia of orchestrating the uprising in an effort to undermine NATO war games set to begin in Georgia on Wednesday.
Saakashvili called the uprising “a serious threat and a serious challenge,” but said it was isolated. He also said the mutineers had “connections with special forces in a specific country known to us.”
“I am asking and demanding from our northern neighbor to refrain from provocations,” Saakashvili said in a televised address.
This mutiny is thuggery, the actions of criminals. It’s tailor-made and just perfect for Vladimir Putin and his lap dog Dmitri Medvedev. Money has been pouring into Georgia to support the forces of unrest, and it’s quite the wonder that Georgia has held on as long as it has. But while the U.S. is glad-handing, or hand-slapping, or fist-bumping, Russia, and hitting the rest button in our relations, Russia is flipping the U.S. the bird. The Russian ambassador to the U.S. has given a stern warning on what the invasion in the August of 2008 really meant.
Russia deplores the NATO decision to hold military training in Georgia. It shows that the alliance did not draw right lesson from the developments in the Caucasus in August 2008, RIA Novosto quoted Russian ambassador the United States Sergey Kislyak a saying in New York.
Corporative Longbow 09 /Corporative Lancer 09 multinational training is expected to begin on May 6 and run through June 1 in Georgia. As many as 1,300 military men from 19 alliance member states and partners will participate.
“Differences between Russia and U.S. on a number of issues still persist. The most recent example is NATO maneuvers in Georgia. It disappoints us as it assures Georgian government that regardless of what it did towards Russia, it will gain NATO membership. Unfortunately, no lesson was drawn from August events,” Russian ambassador said at Carnegie Council in New York.
Lessons. That was the point of the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008. Apparently we (and Georgia) didn’t learn them the easy way, and with the fist-bumping and smiles being the order of the day, The Captain’s Journal wonders if Georgia regrets sending its sons to fight alongside U.S. troops in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Some ally we turned out to be.