The West is concerned about Russia’s military drills Kavkaz-2009 (Caucasus-2009) which started on June 29. The drills will end on July 6 and will embrace almost the entire territory of Russia’s south – from the Arkhangelsk region to Chechnya and Ingushetia republics. Many Western and Georgian experts say that the drills may trigger another war, like it happened in August of 2008.
The Washington Post wrote that Russia was conducting a similar military exercise last year. The completion of the event coincided with the beginning of the military actions. The newspaper is particularly concerned that the end of the drills coincides with Obama’s visit to Moscow.
Western experts believe that the recent drills conducted by NATO and Georgia were like a dove of peace, whereas Russia’s maneuvers should be treated as an omen of hostile aggression.
Alexander Khramchikhin, the Director of the Institute for Political and Military Analysis, told Pravda.Ru that Russia’s Defense Ministry took the tragic events of the summer of 2008 into consideration.
“Indeed, the drills irritate the Western countries. They believe that Russia is getting ready for military actions against its neighbors. Nevertheless, the Caucasus today is one big hotspot, where conflicts may occur at any moment,” the specialist said.
Russia does not have a goal to intimidate Georgia. It is not only the army per se which participates in the maneuvers - other power structures will be involved as well. These other structures are not designated for any actions on the territory of a possible enemy. Russia’s Caspian fleet will participate in the drills too. Georgia does not have an access to the Caspian Sea. To put it in a nutshell, Russia is getting ready to counter a terrorist attack on its territory.
General Alexander Kolmakov compared the scale of Kavkaz-2009 with the drills conducted during the Soviet period. As a matter of fact, the maneuvers at not that large: 8,500 servicemen, 650 armored vehicles, 250 pieces of artillery, 30 planes and helicopters.
Konstantin Zatulin, the Director of the Institute for the CIS, said that the goal of the military exercise was to prevent a war. “The maneuvers are necessary to demonstrate Russia’s readiness in case the nation will have to defend its borders,” he said.
It is ridiculous to say that the drills of 2008 triggered the beginning of the military conflict in the Caucasus last year. Some people in the West simply want to blame Russia for the growing tension in Georgia.
It is worthy of note that NATO and Georgia’s recent drills were held for a longer period of time and represented a whole block of countries. The event took place in the country which still goes through a serious political crisis, which creates prerequisites for another military adventure.