Reported deployment of Smerch (Tornado) multiple-launch rocket systems in vicinity of Tskhinvali by Russia is part of Moscow’s “aggressive policy” against Tbilisi, which poses threat to the entire region, the Georgian Foreign Ministry said on December 6.
Russian news agency, Interfax, reported on December 6, citing an unnamed military source from Russia’s Southern Military District, that a rocket artillery unit, equipped with Smerch systems, was stationed in South Ossetia. The source was also quoted saying that the unit was deployed in the region from the beginning of formation of Russia’s 4th military base in South Ossetia. This base was formed after the August, 2008 war.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry stressed in its statement that the Smerch system with maximum firing range of 90 kilometers, was offensive weapon, falling under the limitations set by the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE). Russia suspended its participation in CEF treaty in late 2007.
The Georgian Foreign Ministry said that increasing militarization in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region, coupled with Russian officials’ “groundless” and “slanderous” allegations as if Russia faces terrorist threat from Georgia, “is significantly increasing probability of military threat coming from Russia.”
It also said that it was Russia’s “‘asymmetric’ response to Georgian President’s peaceful initiative and the Georgian side’s declaration on non-use of force, which has been unambiguously supported by the international community.”