War: Georgia on its way into Abkhazia

The country is officially dispatching 700 military men over to the Georgian-Abkhazian border. Simultaneously, the Georgian parliament voted for withdrawal of the Russian peacemakers from Abkhazia, on the territory of which Ruslan Gelayev’s gang (Gelayev is a well-known Chechen commander) is already operating. Abkhazia claims, the Georgian authorities supported Gelayev.

The situation in the region is changing very fast now. The Russian peacemakers have blocked the Georgian military column in the Kodorsky gorge. Georgia demands the Russian troops should be called off from Abkhazia. In the words from the director of the Georgian Foreign Ministry public relations department, Kakhi Sikharulidze, after the Georgian parliament decided the peacemakers should leave, they must do so. “Otherwise these forces will stay on Abkhazia’s territory illegitimately.”

“The Georgian parliament has actually fulfilled the resolution of the U.N. mission, which stated in its report that the Russian peacemakers did not fulfil its goals in the region,” – Georgia’s State Minister Georgy Arsenishvily claimed today.

In other words, the Georgian authorities are yelling: “Russia, get out!” It did not take one month for the schedule of the new Abkhazian war to be developed. It probably took over a year. Georgia cared for the Chechen gunmen not for nothing – they are now ready to put the rebellious Abkhazia at Georgian President’s feet. There is just one obstacle on the way – the Russian peacemakers in the region. If they are removed, then Georgia’s way towards Sukhumi (the capital of the unrecognized republic of Abkhazia) is open .

This is what Abkhazian authorities say on the possibility to withdraw the Russian peacemakers from the republic: “If this happens, there will surely be battles.” This was in particular said by Abkhazia President’s envoy in Moscow, Igor Akhba. He did not exclude that Abkhazia would ask Russia for help, in case if Georgia puts its troops in the self-proclaimed republic. This would be perceived as aggression in Abkhazia “and then the question on rendering military help to Abkhazia will come up, for it will be the war,” – Akhba declared.

The Russian peacemakers are ready to stay in Abkhazia as much as it is needed. The military commander in the area of the Georgian-Abkhazian conflict, Nikolay Sidorichev said: “We continue our service according to the peacemaking forces mandate and this will be preserved till the decision from the CIS Council.”

It stands the reason, Georgia is not happy about such a position. A conflict of large scale is gathering pace in the region, both in the political and in the military fields. The wish to punish the rebellious Abkhazia is so strong; Russia is a constraining factor so far. So we have to hope our country will not leave the region and prefers to observe the interests of the state.

Reuters photo: Georgian servicemen return to their barracks after military exercises at their training base 40 kms (25 miles) from Tbilisi, October 12, 2001

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