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NATO War Games In Georgia: Threat Of New Caucasus War

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Rick Rozoff
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NATO War Games In Georgia: Threat Of New Caucasus War
Rick Rozoff

On May 6 the Cooperative Longbow 09/Cooperative Lancer 09 US-led NATO Partnership for Peace exercises began in Georgia.

More exactly, the first half of the paired exercises, Cooperative Longbow 09, which is a command post operation conducted at Georgian military headquarters in Tbilisi. The second, Cooperative Lancer 09, is a field exercise and was scheduled to include 1,300 servicemen from 19 countries (Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Greece, Kazakhstan, Moldavia, Serbia, Spain, Macedonia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, Britain, and the US), including 1,089 foreign troops and 214 Georgian servicemen in exercises at the Vaziani base of the Georgian Defence Ministry near the capital. The first started on May 6; the second will run from May 17-June 1.

This is the fourth in what have become annual Cooperative Longbow/Cooperative Lancer exercises, the first having been held in the former Soviet Republic of Moldova in 2006, the following year's in Albania and last year's in Armenia.

The exercises are referred to by NATO and the United States as routine and no cause for concern.

That the last two series of planning exercises and war games have been scheduled in the South Caucasus, and the current one in a nation that not only borders Russia but fought a five-day war with it only nine months ago, and that the military bloc running the exercises and its main member, the US, armed and trained Georgia before and have continued to do so after last August's war make Cooperative Longbow 09/Cooperative Lancer 09 anything but an innocuous occurrence.

Yearly multinational military drills in Russia's neighborhood by an alliance that is an effective belligerent once removed are events that are taken for granted by the West, though to gain an appreciation of how they appear from the other side imagine this scenario: During the Cold War era the Soviet Union initiated a series of annual military exercises in Central America with members of the Warsaw Pact and prospective members from three continents and every Central American nation.

The latest of those war games was held in Mexico in close proximity to the US border. A few years before Russia had covertly sponsored the overthrow of Mexico's elected president and had supported his replacement by someone who earlier had received a grant from the Soviet Foreign Ministry to study in Moscow and after completing his degree and practicing law there returned to his homeland.

The USSR then immediately deployed its special forces and other military units to Mexico to revamp its armed forces, training and arming them to be interoperable with Warsaw Pact nations for combat missions both at home and abroad.

Over several years the Soviet-trained Mexican army and special forces launched regular gunfire and artillery attacks across its border resulting in the deaths of dozens of civilians with US citizenship.

Then nine months before the latest Warsaw Pact war games in the country, Mexico launched an armed assault against contested border areas, killing some 1,600 US nationals, displacing 100,000 more and precipitating an American intervention in which 64 US soldiers were killed and 283 wounded.

If the expression turnabout is fair play has any meaning, this imaginary reversal of events is a fair representation of how Russia is forced to view the current situation in the South Caucasus. 

And that is precisely how matters are interpreted in Russia. Before the beginning of the exercises in Georgia Russian President Dmitry Medvedev warned that, "NATO's plans to hold exercises in Georgia...are an open provocation. Exercises must not be held there where a war has been fought," and referred to the Alliance's behavior as "muscle-flexing."

The Russian ambassador to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), Anvar Azimov, said on May 8 that "NATO's ongoing exercise in Georgia is a downright provocation, since it is held in a region where a war was fought just months ago and where blood was spilt and civilians died." [1]

On May 5 the Russian Foreign Ministry announced that meetings of the Russia-NATO Council would be postponed indefinitely primarily because of the Alliance's exercises in Georgia.

However, on that day and the following two other meetings went on as scheduled.

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Rick Rozoff has been involved in anti-war and anti-interventionist work in various capacities for forty years. He lives in Chicago, Illinois. Is the manager of the Stop NATO international email list at: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato/
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