Thursday, April 30, 2009

Russia to help SOssetia, Abkhazia protect borders

Russia will help South Ossetia and Abkhazia to protect their borders against a feared new Georgian attack that Tbilisi may be heartened to launch after a NATO exercise next month.

On Thursday Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and his counterparts from South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Eduard Kokoity and Sergei Bagapsh, will sign an agreement on joint efforts to protect state borders. Additional agreements will be signed by the security services of the three countries.

Russia recognized independence of the two former Georgian provinces following the Georgian aggression against South Ossetia in August.

"Due to the remaining revanchist intentions of Tbilisi and its course towards remilitarization, as well as aggressive and provocative conduct on the borders with South Ossetia and Abkhazia the holding in Georgia of a NATO exercise on May 6 - June 1 -- no matter what they say about its planned and routine character - cannot be assessed other than moral encouragement of the recent aggressor and a provocative gesture against Russia," a Kremlin official said.

The agreements envisage that Russia will provide assistance to South Ossetia and Abkhazia in training border guards and developing national border services.

"The agreements become specifically vital in the context of the situation that emerged in TransCaucasia today. It is unstable and explosive," the Kremlin official said and explained that Georgian army with heavy hardware and police forces are concentrating close to the borders of the two republics.

Russia estimates some 2.5 Georgian men are staying close to the borders where they erected 50 stationary and mobile posts. "Artillery and armor are being moved to the border areas with South Ossetia," the official said adding the number of provocations has been on the rise of late.
He also said resolute ongoing calls of the Georgian opposition for the resignation of President Mikhail Saakashvili intensified political struggle in Georgia, which is "fraught with any possible provocations of the Saakashvili regime".

The official said the three presidents will also discuss Russian economic assistance to South Ossetia and Abkhazia. In 2009 the Russian government plans to earmark to South Ossetia that was destroyed by massive Georgian shelling 8.5 billion rubles and additional three billion rubles from extra-budget funds.

Russia's Gazprom giant will complete in July the construction of a mountain gas pipeline that will pump fuel to South Ossetia directly from Russia bypassing Georgia that cut gas supplies to South Ossetia in winter. So far 30 out of 80 kilometers of the pipeline were built.

Russian companies plan to invest close to one billion rubles into Abkhazia and restore the highway linking Sukhum with Sochi, renovate a hospital in Sukhum and the New Afon Orthodox monastery, as well as energy utilities and residential quarters.