A Russian proposal to construct a road linking its North Caucasus republic of Dagestan with the neighboring Georgian region of Kakheti may pose a long term risk to Georgian security, a military analyst, Irakli Aladashvili, suggested in an article published by the weekly Kviris Palitra on February 18.
The Russian president unveiled the initiative to construct the road through Mushaki pass on a visit to Dagestan in early February. “The road goes through Tsumadin region [in Dagestan] which borders Georgia,” Putin said. “This will be yet another corridor leading towards Georgia.”
Russia already has three border crossing points with Georgia. However, two of them are located in the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, while the third one has remained closed since 2006 because of a Russian embargo on Georgia.
“There is a suspicion that the Kremlin needs this road via Mushaki pass for military-political reasons rather than economic ones,” the article reads. “We have already witnessed the problems that were created for Georgia’s territorial integrity with the construction of Roki Tunnel in Soviet times, so repeating the same mistake would amount to a crime.”
Roki Tunnel, which was completed in 1985, links Georgia’s breakaway South Ossetia with Russia’s North Ossetian Republic. The authorities in Tbilisi have long been pushing for international monitoring of the tunnel, claiming it is a major route for arms trafficking and smuggling in the secessionist region.
The Kviris Palitra article points out that the proposed road will link Dagestan with villages on Kakheti, which are populated by Laks, an ethnic group, who also reside in Dagestan.