The situation in the South Caucasus is slowly deteriorating creating conditions for growing tensions in the region.
On July 12, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg once again stated that the military bloc is aiming to grant membership to Georgia. In the same month, Georgia’s Prime Minister Mamuka Bakhtadze vowed to press ahead with a move to join NATO. He claimed that if Gerogia joins NATO, it will contribute to the political balance of this “very sensitive” region.
“It is in the best interests of Georgia, it is in the best interests of Europe, and I would say it is in the best interests of the region, and Russia as well,” Bakhtadze stated. “These aspirations will bring more prosperity to the region, more predictability, and more security as well”.
On August 1, a two-week multinational military exercise dubbed Noble Partner 2018 started in Georgia. The drills involve 3,000 troops from 13 members and partners of NATO: Georgia, the US, the UK, Germany, Estonia, France, Lithuania, Poland, Norway, Turkey, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Armenia.
According to official reports, the exercise is at enhancing the readiness and interoperability between the armed forces of Georgia, the US and partner countries as well as improving defensive and offensive capabilities and enhancing the ability to secure the Black Sea Region.
The US transported military equipment from Europe to Georgia for training. The deployed equipment includes Stryker armored fighting vehicles, Bradley infantry fighting vehicles, M1A2 Abrams main battle tanks, Boeing AH-64 Apache attack helicopters, Sikorsky UH-60 Black Hawk utility helicopters.
A total of 1,170 U.S. troops are participating in the drills, which also include bout 1,300 Georgian servicemen and 500 servicemen from other countries.
Georgia is hosting the Noble Partner multinational exercise for the fourth time.
Commenting on the development on August 3, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said that the drills are supported by militarist sentiments and are aimed at exerting pressure over Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
“We cannot agree with the statements of the Georgian Defense Ministry that these drills are aimed at providing security in the Black Sea region. Stability and security mean constructive dialogue, not helicopters and tanks,” Zakharova said. “It is clear that their current task is to project power pressure, chiefly over South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Russia.” These exercises result in “bolstering military sentiments and the escalation of tensions.”
Meanwhile in Armenia, the new “democraitc” regime of Nikol Pashinyan is mimicing the Ukrainain appraoch of presecuting and neutralizing political opponents inside the country.
Following a peaceful transfer of power in Armenia following April-May protests, the Pashinyan government has broken all public and unpublic agreements with the previous leadership in the country and has started mass presecutions of its political opponents. Armenia’s second President Robert Kocharyan as well as CSTO’s Secretary General and former Chief of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Armenia Colonel General Yuri Khachaturov are among the persons targeted by the new Armenian “democratic” regime.
Armenia’s Foreign Ministry even called on CTSO member states to remove Colonel General Khachaturov from his post. This statement faced a cold response from Moscow:
“In response to the statement by the spokesperson of Armenia’s Foreign Ministry regarding the replacement of CSTO’s Secretary General, the Information and Press Department points out that all the necessary explanations were provided to Armenia during the telephone conversation between Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov and Foreign Minister of Armenia Zohrab Mnatsakanyan on July 27, 2018.
In particular, it was noted that according to CSTO’s rules of procedure, it is up to Armenia to initiate the recall of its citizen from the post of CSTO Secretary General, if Yerevan has taken a decision to this effect,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
While publicly the Pashinyan government is pretending to be a “neutral” state, in fact, it’s making a pivot towards NATO, the EU and the US thus seeking to change the balance of power in the region. Realizing that this move can destabilize the region, the Armenian government has started preparing for an escalation in the one of the regional hot points – Nagorno Karabakh.
It’s interesting to note that Armenian diasporas in the EU and the US have launched a propaganda campaign in support of the Pashinyan government amid these developments. Particularly, Assembly of Armenians of Europe called on Armenian nationals in the EU, the US and around the world to host rallies in support of the Pashinyan government on August 17. [100 days of Pashinyan as Armenia’s Prime Minister]
Curiously, why successes of the Armenian government, if they really exist, have to impact the influence of the life in the states and societies [the US, the EU, Russia etc] that have given a second home to Armenian refugees. All the aforementioned countries have received Armenian refugees in variuos hystorical periods.
August 17-like events and statements highly likely demonstrate that Pashinyan’s “democratic” regime has little real results to show to the Armenian citizens. So, his government is forced to employ Ukrainian-style propaganda measrues in order to hide the ill-developed economic and political course behind the media noise based on “democratic” rehetorics and “international support”.
Pashinyan has demonstrated that he’s a successful street protests politician. However, running the government requires different skills.