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NATO center opening in Georgia may worsen situation in South Caucasus

August 28, 2015, 13:46 UTC+3 Zamyatina Tamara
US-Georgia military exercise

US-Georgia military exercise

© AP Photo/Shakh Aivazov

MOSCOW, August 28. /TASS/. The opening of NATO’s center in Georgia is an unfriendly step against Russia and could result in the deterioration of situation in the South Caucasus region, experts told TASS on Friday.

Russian Foreign Ministry official spokesperson Maria Zakharova has called the opening of NATO’s center in Georgia "a continuation of the alliance’s provocative policy to expand its geopolitical influence." Russia will keep complying with the international liabilities to provide reliable protection for its allies - the republics of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, she said.

The president of the Academy of Geo-Political Problems, Konstantin Sivkov, says the South Caucasus remains a hotspot in the post-Soviet space. "Over this period, six armed conflicts have occurred there and dozens of thousands of people have been killed. The former republics of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Nagorny Karabakh remain unrecognized or partly recognized states."

"The opening of NATO’s training center in Tbilisi signals that the alliance’s leadership is set to help Georgia to try to restore control over South Ossetia and Abkhazia and plunge the region into more bloodshed," Sivkov told TASS.

The expert reminded that in 2008 Georgia’s ex-president Mikhail Saakashvili carried out aggression against South Ossetia but was completely defeated by the Russian army that defended its peacekeepers and civilians.

"It is evident that NATO leaders want to help the Georgian army to get rid of a military defeat syndrome and boost its morale," Sivkov said. "The task of the NATO center is to train the core of officers corpus in line with the alliance’s standards to rule out mistakes that were made during the training of Georgia’s troops and led to their defeat in 2008."

"NATO will provide Georgia’s Armed Forces with modern equipment and prepare the country for the accession to the alliance," the expert said, adding that it will take some five or six years to reequip the Georgian army.

"The strategic goal of the alliance in the South Caucasus is to create tensions on Russia’s eastern flank. On the western flank, NATO has already turned Ukraine into a hostile state for Russia and now it’s Georgia’s turn.The North Atlantic Alliance needs two anti-Russian bridgeheads to burden Russia with military problems and not to allow it to develop its economy," he said.

The head of the International Security Center under the Russian Academy of Sciences, Aleksey Arbatov, said most Georgia’s citizens call for joining NATO. However, the same number of Georgians favors friendly relations with Russia.

"In the near future, this contradictory sentiment in the society will not allow the leadership of NATO and Georgia to raise the issue of the country’s accession to the alliance," Arbatov told TASS.

"From the legal point of view, Georgia’s accession to NATO is unrealistic as there is a Russian military base on its lost territory. Besides, in practical terms NATO does not make its part the countries that have unresolved territorial disputes," the expert said.

"Nevertheless, the Georgian leadership seeks to support relations with NATO. The opened alliance’s center in Tbilisi will deal not only with training forces but also with conducting propaganda amid citizens on NATO’s advantages and that is to beat the air. The most important thing is that the process has started, the alliance believes," he said.

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