Georgia prepares military fortifications and weapons depots at border with South Ossetia

Source: Voice of Russia

South Ossetia’s President Leonid Tibilov said on Wednesday that Georgia is building fortifications and arms depots near its border with the breakaway republic.

He did not rule out new provocations ahead of the 22th anniversary of the formation of South Ossetia. Tibilov was speaking during his meeting with co-chairman of the Geneva discussions Phillippe Lefort, who is also EU Special Representative for the South Caucasus and the crisis in Georgia.

Tibilov cited information about Georgia’s military activity along the entire perimeter of its border with South Ossetia. He mentioned the construction of fortifications and small arms depots in cross-borders areas, something that Tibilov said may target South Ossetian people. He stressed that Tbilisi will bear full responsibility for a possible conflict between South Ossetia and Georgia. In Moscow, Caucasus expert Alexander Krylov attributes Tbilisi’s new saber-rattling to the upcoming parliamentary elections in Georgia.

“The situation has changed as compared to the year of 2008, Krylov says. Tbilisi launching a new military operation is unlikely, he adds, singling out a Russian base in South Ossetia that is capable of neutralizing a threat. In this regard, the above-mentioned information is hardly related to Tbilisi’s preparations for a new war with South Ossetia. In fact, it is the election campaign in Georgia that really matters. It seems that Saakashvili decided to improve his ruling party’s approval ratings by resorting to saber-rattling,” Krylov concludes.

Moscow-based political analyst Andrei Arishev, in contrast, says that the latest military activity by Tbilisi should be closely watched because a territorial conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia is yet to be resolved.

“Any complications are possible in the context of an unstable situation in the North Caucasus, Areishev says, referring to the break-up of Russian-Georgian diplomatic relations and Tbilisi’s ongoing bellicose rhetoric. In this connection, we should certainly heed Leonid Tibilov’s latest statement,” Arishev concludes.

Ahead of its aggression against South Ossetia in 2008, Tbilisi regularly urged a diplomatic solution to the problem, but in reality, Georgian authorities preferred to use howitzers and tanks as the most convincing argument. But for Russia’s help, the future of South Ossetia would have been anybody’s guess.

Currently, Tskhinval is able to contain Tbilisi’s attempts to destabilize the situation by using Moscow’s political, diplomatic and military aid. In the wake of the 2008 aggression, Russia recognized the independence of South Ossetia and clinched a military cooperation agreement with Tskhinval, a document according to which Russia is obliged to render all necessary support to South Ossetia, in line with international norms. Nevertheless, both Moscow and Tskhinval have repeatedly stressed the importance of resolving all existing differences through a dialogue. The topic will top the agenda of a new round of the Geneva discussions on the settlement of a conflict between Georgia and South Ossetia slated for October. Sadly, Georgian authorities persistently continue to cite Moscow’s alleged preparations for a new military conflict in the North Caucasus. As an example, they point out the ongoing Kavkaz-2012 military drills in Russia’s Krasnodar Region. Tbilisi traditionally hushes up the fact that these war games are being held on a regular and transparent basis.

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