TBILISI, April 28 (The Conway Bulletin) — In its latest national defence review, undertaken every four or five years, Georgia said that its biggest threat was still Russia despite a marked improvement in relations between the two neighbours since 2012.
Quoting from the Georgian language document, the civil.ge news website said that a build-up of Russian forces in the Caucasus and the Black Sea region was a threat.
“The main factor for planning national defence and security still remains the threat from the Russian Federation,” the civil.ge website reported. The review has not yet been published in English.
Relations between Georgia and Russia have improved since the Georgian Dream came to power in 2012 and former president Mikheil Saakashvili fled into exile.
The report, which sets the tone and agenda for the Georgian military up to 2020, said that Russian aggression and its lack of respect for international law posed a serious threat to Georgia. In particular, the report’s authors said the build-up of the Russian military in the region “will weaken the West’s access to the Caucasus region, and, accordingly, decrease its capability to balance Russia.”
Russia has increased its military cooperation with the rebel Georgian states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia since a war with Georgia in 2008. This has included holding military exercises in South Ossetia deploying thousands of soldiers.
Since annexing Crimea in 2014, Russia has also strengthened its presence in the Black Sea.
Part of Georgia’s defence plan is to join NATO and in the Defence Review it said that it would continue to support NATO, EU and UN operations.
>>This article was first published in issue 326 of the weekly Conway Bulletin newspaper