Friday, May 18, 2012

Misc update (Georgia)


Relations between Russia, Georgia, NATO, and the U.S. continue to exist in a sort of cold war, with occasional rhetorical eruptions on both sides and with the internal politics of the various parties roiled by the circumstances resulting from the war of 2008... Some recent headlines:

Saakashvili Says Chicago Summit To Note Tbilisi's NATO Progress. May 17th, 2012. "...President Mikhail Saakashvili says he expects the upcoming NATO summit in Chicago to note the progress Georgia has made toward membership. Starting a U.S. tour, Saakashvili told Georgian journalists after his arrival in New York on May 16 that, although the Chicago summit is not about NATO enlargement, "there is every reason to believe that the forum will note the progress achieved by Georgia in recent years in approaching the alliance's standards" on democracy, human rights and military readiness. Saakashvili has been invited to the NATO summit that is taking place in Chicago on May 21-22. ..."

Saakashvili puts it all on the line. April 30th, 2012. "...An uncomfortable promise from Georgia's combative president in reference to the separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, as reported by RFE/RL: "Saakashvili said he was even willing to sacrifice parts of his body that Moscow has "shown interest in" -- a hint at then-President Vladimir Putin's infamous 2008 pledge to "hang Saakashvili by the balls." ..."

Ex-K.G.B. Agent Said to Win South Ossetia Presidency. April 8th, 2012. "...Early results from a fourth round of voting in South Ossetia on Sunday indicated that the former K.G.B. official Leonid Tibilov had been elected president, bringing an end to a long, tumultuous campaign season that proved an embarrassment to Moscow, the region’s source of military and financial support..."

The Russian Military Has an Action Plan Involving Georgia if Iran Is Attacked. April 5th, 2012. "...Russian Defense Ministry sources told the semiofficial news agency Interfax that action plans are being finalized to react to an armed conflict involving Iran and its nuclear program. The General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces “calculates” that military action against Iran will commence “in the summer” of 2012. Since Israel does not have sufficient assets to defeat Iranian defenses, the Russian military considers US military involvement inevitable (Interfax, March 30). Bits of information have been appearing, indicating the essence of Russian military action. Last December it was disclosed that families of servicemen from the Russian base in Armenia have been evacuated to Russia, while the troops have been moved from the capital, Yerevan, north to Gumri – closer to the borders of Georgia and Turkey. The preparation of Russian forces in Armenia for action in the event of military conflict with Iran began “two years ago”

Saakashvili Links Russia's Planned Military Drills with Elections in Georgia. April 1st, 2012. "...Russia’s planned military exercises this fall was timed deliberately to coincide with Georgia’s parliamentary elections, scheduled for October, President Saakashvili said on March 31. “It is not a coincidence that our neighbor scheduled its large-scale military exercises for second half of September, just several days before elections [in Georgia]. This timing is really not a coincidence,” Saakashvili said ..."

U.S. Marines Exercise With Georgians, Russia Calls It "Provocation" March 20th, 2012. "...U.S. Marines and Georgian soldiers are conducting joint military exercises and, in a development that everyone saw coming, it's become controversial, with Russia calling it a "provocation." The exercises include 350 Marines and 400 Georgian troops and are scheduled to end Wednesday after nine days of drills. The U.S. contingent is part of the Romania-based Black Sea Rotational Force. Their goal is to build military-military relations with the Georgians, while the Georgians are training to go to Afghanistan. ..."

Lugar Introduces NATO Enlargement Bill March 9th, 2012. "... U.S. Senator Dick Lugar (R-IN) has introduced the NATO Enhancement Act, a bill to encourage further enlargement of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and to deepen U.S. strategic partnerships with NATO allies. “NATO enlargement has been a key element to enhancing stability and political reform among the new democracies of Central and Eastern Europe and the Balkans.” Lugar said. “The prospect of membership in NATO has not only improved regional security, it is helping to transform nations into close economic and national security partners of the United States.”

South Ossetian Unit To Serve In Russian Military. Feb 15th, 2012. "... The Russian military base in South Ossetia will soon include a battalion for Ossetians, which government officials say will act as a "forge" to build a capable military in the quasi-independent country, but which looks just as much like a blow against the territory's fragile sovereignty. .."

Caucasus Context: Kenneth Yalowitz on Obama-Saakashvili meeting February 2012. "It is the first presidential meeting that Saakashvili has had recently and it coincides with the 20th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations and Georgia’s independence. With the tense security situation in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and the North Caucasus, and the changing political situation inside Russia, it was important and timely that the two presidents meet to discuss the bilateral relationship, security issues, trade and investment. Georgia’s membership in NATO and the supply of defensive military equipment to Georgia were certainly discussed and appreciation expressed for Georgia’s contributions to allied forces in Iraq and Afganhistan. President Saakashvili also met Secretary of State Clinton and the Georgian Defense Minister met Defense Secretary Panetta in Europe so this was an opportunity to review the whole relationship..."

The Dangerous Idea of NATO Expansion Will Not Die Jan 31st, 2012. "...We certainly hope Obama’s comment was an example of the meaningless pleasantries that a President may sometimes have to use to make his guest feel welcome and to give him a soundbite he can use to placate folks back home. If Obama is serious about supporting Georgian membership at the Chicago summit, we have to hope that the Europeans members that opposed this move four years ago will prevent it again. There was never a good argument for bring Georgia into the alliance. It was always a dangerous, irresponsible idea, and one that the 2008 war should have killed off forever. ..."

Georgia’s Exclusion from NATO: Is the West Out of Excuses? Jan 31st, 2012. "...President Obama and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili were all smiles after their meeting at the White House earlier today. Obama reportedly told Saakashvili he wants a U.S.-Georgia free trade agreement, and the two leaders discussed security cooperation as well. Obama also made a verbal gesture toward Georgia that everyone pretends to be reassured by even though it’s usually utterly meaningless: He reaffirmed American support for Georgia’s acceptance into NATO. But in this case, Obama’s NATO comments are actually important, whether the NATO bid goes anywhere or not. That’s because the reasons to keep Georgia out of NATO have disappeared, and we’ll find out whether the West’s commitment to its allies and to global security are all, as Obama might say, “just words.” ..."

Obama and Saakashvili Signal No Movement On Weapons To Georgia. Jan 30th, 2012. "...Presidents Obama and Saakashvili has their much-anticipated Oval Office meeting Monday afternoon, and their comments to the press afterwards suggested that differences of opinion remained over the question of the U.S. supplying weapons to Georgia. That has become the most fraught element of the U.S.-Georgia partnership, with Tbilisi pushing hard to get the U.S. to give or sell the Georgians "defensive" weapons, and the U.S. demurring. Congress recently tried to force Obama to restart a more robust defense cooperation, including arms sales, but Obama then declared his intention to ignore Congress, setting up the potential of a small crisis between the tiny Caucasus nation and its would-be superpower patron. At the White House meeting, in spite of the formal professions of strong cooperation, it wasn't hard to see cracks in that facade. ..."

Some previous blog entries on Georgia:

Misc update (Georgia) - Dec 28th, 2011
Misc update (Georgia) - May 15th, 2011
Misc update (Georgia) - Mar 26th, 2011
A little war II - Apr 22nd, 2010
A little war I - Mar 17th, 2010
An inconvenient truth - Nov 26th, 2008
Georgia update... - Nov 22nd, 2008
Georgia - Sept 7th, 2008
Immediate Response?!? - Aug 25th, 2008
Georgia (updated) - Aug 15th, 2008
Two-edged sword (South Ossetia) - Aug 11th, 2008

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