Thursday, April 23, 2009

Russia's Protest Against Nato Military Training In Georgia Is Element Of "exchange" In Moscow-washington Dialogue: Experts

Experts say Russia's protests against NATO military training in Georgia is another element of "exchange" in a dialogue between West and Moscow.

"Moscow increases number of negotiating positions with the U.S. as agenda of mutual relations are being formed actively. Sides seek subjects for exchange," Russian expert on security Mikhail Remizov said.

It is planned to hold NATO military training in Georgia, which is striving for the alliance, in early May. NATO planned to involve 1,300 military men from 19 countries to the training and hold them at 20 kilometers east of Tbilisi to improve coordination amongst the alliance members and its partners.

Russia proposed NATO to cancel or postpone military training in Georgia. Russia considers the military training to be provocation in a period of anti-president demonstrations.

"I asked the NATO Secretary General [...] to postpone or fully cancel the training," Russian Special Envoy to NATO Dmitriy Rogozin told Reuter and added that Russia is against of NATO training near its borders.

However alliance representatives are not going to cancel military training.

NATO will not refuse to hold military exercises in Georgia in early May, despite Russia's address to cancel or postpone it, NATO Press Secretary Simone De Manso said.

"The exercises have been planned for a long time and it will go ahead as planned," De Manso told Trend News in a telephone conversation from Brussels.

Analysts say Russia's protest against alliance's military training in Georgia is a ground for exchanges with the U.S.

Military training can play a role of trump card in West-Moscow talks, British expert on South Caucasus Ziba Norman said. "There is a genuine need for cooperation with Russia regarding supply routes for military operations in Afghanistan, and Russia may have calculated that this can be used as a bargaining tool in an attempt to prevent the NATO exercises in Georgia," Director of the London-based Transatlantic and Caucasus Studies Institute Norman told Trend News via email.

Remizov said Moscow is increasing number of negotiating positions with the U.S. as agenda of mutual relations are being formed actively. "As a subject for "exchange" the problem of military cooperation with Georgia was more important than even missile defense system in Europe as prospects of military bases in Georgia are more significant for Russia," Russian National Strategy Institute Director Mikhail Remizov told Trend News over telephone from Moscow.

Western observers say Russia's step is also demonstration of regional influence in the Caucasus.
Georgia falls within an area that Russia considers to be its private preserve, an area in which it believes it has the right to assert its influence, Norman said. "Georgia is of greater strategic importance to Russia. The hasty recognition of Abkhazia's independence and the subsequent development of a Russian military presence on the Black Sea coast are clear examples of just how critical Russia believes this region is," Norman said.

"Moscow's protest is part of a strategy to weaken NATO, so if these exercises were to be abandoned then NATO would lose credibility," Norman said.

Russian expert said not military decision of NATO member states, but diplomatic situation is principal in this situation. "Moscow wants the regime in Georgia to be diplomatically out of the zone of military cooperation with the West because this regime does not hide that it is concerned with the possible military revenge," Remizov said. Moscow's protests are simply policy to prevent military cooperation, he said.

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