There seems to be a dangerous crisis in progress between Russia and Georgia. During the past week, the Georgians have surrounded the headquarters of the Russian forces in Georgia with policemen and arrested four officers of the GRU (Russian military intelligence) for allegedly spying and conspiring with opponents of the government, in order (so they say) to prevent further integration of Georgia with NATO. On top of that, the Russians have been evacuating nationals from Georgia, and have also announced a stop to the withdrawal of their troops from the country.
Yesterday, the Russian “peacekeeping force” in South Ossetia complained of being overflown by Georgian Sukhoi-25 (NATO name Frogfoot) aircraft, the Soviet answer to the A-10. Before that, the Georgians had accused “somebody” of firing a Strela-2 man portable SAM at President Saakashvili’s helicopter, whilst a group of US senators were aboard. And the Russians have also complained that “new NATO states” have been selling Georgia arms.
Today, a border incident resulted in an Abkhasian man being killed and two Georgian police wounded, the first time in this round of the conflict that the trouble includes Abkhasia. This could yet get very serious indeed-it doesn’t take a Kissinger to realise that all kinds of complicated strategic interests and ethnic/religious identities are involved.
How much EU or NATO support can Georgia count on? Or will the EU seek to reassure Russia?