14th Round is about to kick off
16 December, 2010
14th Round is about to kick off

Russia has just deployed Smerch-type reactive salvo fire units at Tskhinvali

While the whole world categorically demands from Russia to honor the August 2008 agreement, Kremlin keeps adamantly insisting that it is not going to leave the South Caucasus. One shining example is the recent information that Russia deployed Smerch reactive salvo firing mechanized units near Tskhinvali. This move followed re-enforcement of the fourth Russian military base in so called South Ossetia with troops.

Georgian experts cannot conceal distress regarding

the efforts of Russian leadership to get round the demands of the international community to fulfill commitments, which Russia made according to the August 2008 Agreement. Moreover, they are now sure that by deploying Smerch salvo fire units at Tskhinvali, Kremlin re-asserts its determination to cling to the occupied territories.
“To avert possible Georgian aggression, we stationed near Tskhinvali a reactive artillery division equipped with Smerch type systems,” – they state in the military structures of the South Federal Okrug.
It turns out that the Division which comprises contractual military officers is kept in full military readiness. One salvo round of the Division Smerch fire barrages 70 ha area. Re-loading for the second salvo takes only few minutes. On top of the Smerch deployment, Russians had earlier increased troops, armament and mechanization on their fourth base as reported by Russian media itself. Russian officers are now going to train the soldiers in the use of the new armament.
“We will not use force against Georgia, its population, territory and armed forces. Yet, we reserve the right of self-defense in accordance with the UN statute. If our worst expectations come true, the aggressor will again get an appropriate response,” declared Kokoiti, President of so called South Ossetia. He also added that after the August 2008 war Georgia not only managed to regain its former military capacity but even exceeded it considerably.
Kokoiti, like Baghapsh, leader of Abkhazian separatists, says that the verbal pledge of President Saakashvili on non-use of force cannot be taken seriously unless the commitment is fixed on a legally binding paper.
It is interesting to know if Kokoiti and his high-flying Kremlin bosses understand the full essence of legal agreements. One may wonder about their hypocrisy when the whole world calls Medvedev to respect articles of the legal agreement he had signed.
As you may remember, Georgian President Saakashvili delivered a speech to the European MPs on 23 November. He called Russia to start a dialogue and added that Georgia reserves only the right of self-defense and would not use force to retrieve territories currently beyond its control.
It is noteworthy that the West keeps a very serious eye on the developments in the South Caucasus. Hence, any military operation against Georgia would be highly disadvantageous for Russia.
Experts say the boost of Russian military armament and troops in the occupied territory is aimed at averting the conflict.
It must be noted that on 16 December the 14th round of South Caucasian Security talks will start in Geneva and may prove to be a rather significant event. Does Europe still cherish any hope that Russia will honor the Sarkozy-Medvedev Agreement in the foreseeable future, especially in the light of recent rejection of Medvedev’s idea by OSCE to set up a joint defense system as an alternative to NATO?
Lavrov believes a consensus could not be reached at the recent Astana Summit due to the efforts of several countries to lobby the formulation that South Ossetia and Abkhazia remain integral parts of Georgia.
Considering the events that unfolded recently, and if we believe some experts; after the Russian demarche in Astana, no one should normally expect any compromise from the Kremlin. Furthermore, at Geneva discussions we should expect violations rather then compromises on part of Russia.

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