Outlawing the Bases

by Nathan Hamm on 3/12/2005 · 3 comments

I’ve been meaning to post about Georgia considering a novel solution to the Russian military bases deadlock for a while. Well, now that the parliament has voted unanimously in favor of outlawing Russian military bases on Georgian territory, it seems much more worth mentioning.

In the motion, the lawmakers gave the government until May 15 to draw up a list of measures to go into effect in the event Tbilisi and Moscow are unable by May 1 to agree on “a concrete withdrawal timetable that is well-considered and acceptable to Georgia”.

The measures should be designed to curtail activity at the Russian bases and the deputies proposed in particular that Georgian authorities stop issuing visas to Russian military personnel and strictly regulate the movements of those working on Georgian territory.

If this seems designed to force a crisis, you can bet that it is. The Georgian parliament probably decided to finally act on a few fairly obvious things:

  1. Russia is interested in dragging out the discussion for more money, to legitimize the presence of the bases, and/or to use them as bargaining chips with not just Georgia, but the US and Europe.
  2. Removing the bases is not a huge concern for the US and Europe right now because there’s no crisis. They’ve been there for a while and everyone’s been able to manage with the status quo. Georgia needed to change that.
  3. The bases aren’t so vital to Russia that one would think they’d be truly willing to risk another war in the Caucasus — especially with a democratic government with close ties to Europe, the United States, and the Ukrainian government — especially when they can get paid (something more reasonable than they’ve been asking) to remove them.
  4. International law is on Georgia’s side.

So, it’s probably time to just sit back and wait for the sparks to fly. I’m sure that Russia will go apoplectic.

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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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Sepra March 12, 2005 at 3:11 pm

That is so awesome! Although you can bet that even though the bases aren’t so important, they will suddenly become vital to Putin’s war on terror or something.

Go Georgia!

One Eyed Cat March 13, 2005 at 1:04 pm

Glory to Georgia! The Russians will eventually leave with their tails between their legs. *Eyes the Black Sea Fleet*


Alexei March 14, 2005 at 7:18 am

If Russia goes truly apoplectic, it can easily crush Georgia by purely non-military means. Expelling a good deal of Georgian nationals and a (perfectly legitimate) inquiry into Kakha Bendukidze’s title to his industrial assets would be more than enough. But I hope that Putin does not overreact and does not therefore accord more significance to Georgia than it deserves.

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