Russia will be holding a series of military exercises in the North Caucasus, Armenia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia this fall, reportedly in preparation for a possible U.S.-Israeli attack on Iran. The exercises, called Kavkaz-2012, will be held in September and won't be tactical/operational but strategic (i.e. won't involve large numbers of troops). The exercises will, however, include officers from the breakaway Georgian territories. The focus on surveillance, air defense and logistics suggests that Russia is tailoring the exercise to prepare for a U.S.-Israel-Iran war, says Russian newspaper Nezavisimaya Gazeta:
As suggested by the head of the Center for Military Forecasting, Colonel Anatoly Tsyganok, "Preparations for the Kavkaz-2012 exercises seems to have begun already largely due to the increasing military tensions in the Persian Gulf." "In a possible war against Iran may be drawn some former Soviet countries of South Caucasus. How, then, to ensure the viability of Russian troops stationed abroad, for example, in Armenia? Apparently, the General Staff will plan some proactive measures, including learning to organize in critical logistic supply of troops," said the expert.
Whatever the reason for the exercise, Georgia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs is objecting:
Russia is deliberately building up its military forces, strengthening its military infrastructure and deploying offensive weapons in Georgia's occupied territories. In doing so, the Russian government is seeking to instigate a permanent state of tension in Georgia and in the Black Sea region as a whole.The international community should pay due attention to the fact that Russia's foreign policy has undergone no change: the Russian government continues to adopt aggressive practices, including the demonstration of military force and provocations.
Russia represents a source of destabilization and negative developments in the international arena.
Meanwhile, Azerbaijan is ratcheting up the bellicose rhetoric (even by the high standards of the Caucasus) against Armenia, reports Bloomberg:
Azerbaijan is buying up modern weaponry to be able to regain control of the breakaway Nagorno- Karabakh region quickly and with few losses should peace talks with neighboring Armenia fail, President Ilham Aliyev said.
Defense spending will rise 1.8 percent this year to $3.47 billion, which Aliyev said tops Armenia’s entire state budget.
“It’s not a frozen conflict, and it’s not going to be one,” Aliyev said today in remarks broadcast on state television channel AzTV.
Would war in Iran have any effect on the Nagorno-Karabakh situation? The mind reels.