Georgia Seizes Russian Weapons

by Nathan Hamm on 7/7/2004

Georgian troops stopped a convoy of Russian trucks in the Ossetian conflict zone and seized weaponry from the Russian soldiers.

Georgian police gave back 10 trucks belonging to Russian peacekeepers on Tuesday, Russian Information Agency Novosti reported. The trucks were arrested at night in the Georgia-Ossetia conflict zone near the village of Tkviavi. The convoy was transporting 40 Russian servicemen, Interfax has reported, quoting an adviser of South Ossetian president, Konstantin Kochiyev

Earlier, it was reported that the trucks taken to the Georgian city of Gori had been carrying up to 300 missiles, radios, tents and fuel. Chairman of the Georgian parliament’s committee for national security and defense, Georgy Tarmagadze, was quoted by Interfax as saying that he country had no intention to return the seized weapons.

The Russian peacekeepers, having sealed off the road, tried to retrieve the equipment, but it had already been taken to the Gori district controlled by the Georgian side. The head of the press service of Russian defense ministry, Colonel Vyacheslav Sedov, quoted by Interfax news agency said that Georgian troops had beaten Russian peacekeepers.

Civil.ge reports that the incident may expose a rift in the Georgian government.

The Russian Defense Ministry further explained the details of the agreement and reported on July 7 that the ammunition and arms were intended to supply the Russian Peacekeeping Troops’ helicopter command center in the conflict zone. Creation of this center was agreed upon during the June 2 session of the JCC, according to the Commander of the Russian peacekeepers in South Ossetia Sviatoslav Nabdzorov.

Following the reports over the existence of an agreement to create a helicopter command center, Georgian Interior Minister Irakli Okruashvili said that the several members of the Georgian cabinet will be interrogated, as they allegedly were informed regarding the planned movement of arms.

“Those who are in charge of holding talks in frames of the Joint Control Commission will have to answer questions put to them by investigators,” Irakli Okruashvili said; however, he did not specifically name any particular officials.

However, no one doubts that Okruashvili’s statement directly concerns to Georgian State Minister in charge of conflict resolution issues Goga Khaindrava, as he represents the Georgian side at the Joint Control Commission.

Further commentary at Civil.ge suggests that Georgia had reason to be cautious but will end up with egg on its face.

The same missiles were widely used during the ethnic conflicts in Georgia for launching from the truck-mounted pads as a cheap and effective addition for the artillery. Some of these homemade devices should still be available South Ossetia.

The missiles, which were quickly shipped to the administrative center of Gori, gave Georgia a trump-card: early in June Georgian government has argued that Russia (and/or the government of neighboring North Ossetia) shipped ammunition to South Ossetia – a claim that was flatly denied by the Russian authorities. It seemed that the Russian peacekeepers would have to explain the “peacekeeping” purpose of 300 helicopter missiles.

The tables seem to have turned in a crisis as the commander of the Russian PK forces Svyatoslav Nabdzorov explained that the 300 missiles were intended for the Helicopter Squadron, which was to be set up in South Ossetia according to the June 2 decision of the Joint Control Commission (JCC) – a quadripartite body responsible for the peace talks.

Russia also alleges that its soldiers were abused by the Georgian peacekeepers.

In the meantime, the Russian Defense Ministry has launched a fresh salvo alleging that the Russian servicemen were beaten during detention. Russia would definitely launch a diplomatic and public relations counter-offensive portraying Georgian side as unreliable, destructive partner in South Ossetia. This would seriously damage the efforts of the Georgian authorities to lead the way in finding a political solution to South Ossetia conflict.

Additionally, the confusion in the government over the purpose of the missiles show it suffers from many problems of its predecessor.

The crisis is especially embarrassing for the Georgian government, as it proves that it has inherited the key elements of the previous, Eduard Shevardnadze’s cabinet beset by the failures of internal communication and inconsistency of policy.

The author suggests that Georgia would never have agreed to the helicopter squadron and that Goga Khaindrava, the Georgian representative to the Joint Control Commission, overstepped his authority if he agreed to the deployment.


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This post was written by...

– author of 2991 posts on 17_PersonNotFound.

Nathan is the founder and Principal Analyst for Registan, which he launched in 2003. He was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Uzbekistan 2000-2001 and received his MA in Central Asian Studies from the University of Washington in 2007. Since 2007, he has worked full-time as an analyst, consulting with private and government clients on Central Asian affairs, specializing in how socio-cultural and political factors shape risks and opportunities and how organizations can adjust their strategic and operational plans to account for these variables. More information on Registan's services can be found here, and Nathan can be contacted via Twitter or email.

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