First The Land, Now The Sky: The Kremlin's domination of Georgia's airspace
12 March, 2015
First The Land, Now The Sky: The Kremlin's domination of Georgia's airspace
On March 4th, Russian aerial defense forces began large-scale exercises in the Northern Caucasus, the annexed Crimean peninsula, the occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali and at the military base in the Armenian town of Gyumri. More than 2,000 troops and 500 military vehicles are participating in the maneuvers.

Russian military exercises currently taking place in the occupied regions of Abkhazia and Tskhinvali, as well as near the Armenian town of Gyumri, have shown us that Moscow can project its
power over most of Georgia’s airspace.

These actions have caused great concern for the Georgian public. The country’s government expressed its protest over Russian army’s actions, but to put it frankly, “concerns” and (government or diplomatic) protests aren’t really known for changing anything in this region. Russian military bases #7 and #4 in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali respectively, constantly conduct military exercises, comprising a significant part of their annual training preparations.
As for the Russian aerial defense forces, they have the potential of inflicting paralyzing damage to Georgia’s territorial integrity. These might be merely aerial defense forces, but they can almost entirely block the small country’s airspace, threatening to shoot down any aircraft in Georgian skies.
Strangely (or perhaps tellingly), the Russian Ministry of Defense is specifically is not including the Buk-M1 anti-aircraft systems into these current exercises. This all likelihood is due to the fact that the civilian Boeing airliner Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot down last July in Ukraine by the very same Russian-made system, killing all 298 people on board. Of course the military base in Tskhinvali is bound to possess that particular anti-aircraft system, as well as a number of other systems including the “Tunguska,” the Strela-10M3, the “Shilka,” the ZU-23-2, the Osa-AKM and dozens of the 9k38 Igla infrared man-portable launchers.

A Tactical Breakdown of the Intricate Web of Weapons Systems, their Vast Capabilities and the Russian-Occupied Bases that Host Them, Threatening Georgia from its Own Territory.

Abkhazian Military Base #7 is known to have in its arsenal “Tunguska,” “Strela-10M3” and “Igla” AA anti-aircraft sys­tems as well as the dreaded long-range S-300 missile system, which was deployed to Gudauta during the 2008 war.
S-300 systems have been in the arsenal of Russian military base #102 in Gyumri for more than 20 years deployed on Georgia’s border. And two years ago, Russian military transports augmented those with Buk-M1-2 systems.
It is with these weapons listed above and from these bases that Russia threatens complete control of Georgian airspace. If Russian forces manage to transport their S-300PMU-2 systems from Gudauta to Gali, then the 200-km range of those weapons will allow them to target any flying object at average (and above average) altitudes. This amounts to unabated armed tactical control over the entirety of Western Georgia, including Batumi and Kutaisi.
The Buk-M11 systems that are deployed in the occupied area of Akhalgori have a range of 40km, but Russian generals can transport S-300 systems there in a matter of hours, ensuring similar control over Eastern Georgian airspace as well.
As for the S-300B systems in Gyumri, those missiles can penetrate 75-100km into Georgian territory. This would enable them to prevent Georgian air support planes located at Marneuli Airfield from taking off, rendering the airfield obsolete.

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