Crossfire War – MOSCOW WATCH – South Caucasus Theatre: Moscow – Tskhinvili/Tbilisi – Tehran; Moscow Orders Russian Forces – Bases in South Caucasus to be on High Alert – If Provoked “Shoot to Kill” – Putin Convenes Russian Security Council Meeting – States Russia is Being Provoked – Warns “Foreign Sponsors” of Tbilisi
Night Watch: TSKHINVILI – Moscow has ordered Major General Andrei Popov, commander of Russian Forces in the South Caucasus, to place his units and their bases on high alert. General Popov stated that according to Russian law, military bases abroad are treated as Russian territory and any attack on them by a foreign state is considered an act of aggression against Russia, which must be countered by any means necessary. The General stated that means, “Shoot to kill if provoked, in the case of a contingency situation or a provocation, troops are ready to counter them by any means necessary, including shooting to kill.”[RIA]
At the same time, outside Moscow, Russia President Vladimir Putin has convened a meeting of the Russian Security Council. In attendance are the: Prime Minister, the heads of both Houses of Parliament, the Foreign, Defense and Interior Ministers, heads of the Security Services and the Armed Forces Chief.
President Putin stated, “Despite the fact that Russia is constantly fulfilling all our agreements with Georgia, on the withdrawal of our military units from the territory of the republic, despite this as we know, our servicemen have been seized and thrown in prison.” He then added that it is clear Russia is being provoked and continued, “Evidently those who are doing this believe that an anti-Russian direction in foreign policy serves the best interests of Georgian people. I do not think this is so. These people think that being under the protection of their foreign sponsors they can feel comfortable and safe.” [RIA]
The meeting has obviously being convened to determine the extent of insecurity Tbilisi and its international supporters should experience. Putin did not mention specifically who the “foreign sponsors” of the government in Tbilisi are, but recently Russia Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov openly accused the newer members of NATO of arming Georgia. The newer members are the Baltic States and Slovakia, Romania and Bulgaria, all of whom joined NATO in 2004. Neither is it any secret, as crossfirewar.com has reported, that Iran has increased its ties to Georgia, as if they sense an opportunity to increase their hold over this strategic mountainous region that is a crossroads of energy pipelines.
I suspect that behind the scenes, Berlin, the provider of most of Russia’s hard currency and the ones who have long sponsored Vladimir Putin and made him President, want a forceful military response to any threat. They know Moscow holds tremendous economic influence over all the foreign sponsors of Georgia and that Moscow is negotiating from a position of economic strength since Russia’s economy is at its strognest in living memory, certainly since the end of the Cold War in 1990.
Berlin is also aware that Russia is desperately improving its military and its professionalism. Russia’s Air Force has just completed exercises in which strategic bombers practiced the launching of cruise missiles. Before this month is over they may have reason to demonstrate their capability in the Caucasus. This will have a direct impact on everyone’s negotiating position on almost any international issue all over Eurasia since security issues are interlocked.
A powerful military resolution by Moscow, of this crisis with Georgia, will introduce a new factor in the equation of international relations. Russia is back, a presence to be reckoned with once again. The international community will take notice of the efficiency of Moscow’s response, its sucessful reassertion in the Caucasus, and immediately contrast it with Washington’s military and mental collaspe in Iraq. International relations will be adjusted accordingly.