The Georgian authorities are fanning “hysteria” about Russia’s military exercises Kavkaz-2012 planned for September, using it as part of their “propaganda” against Russia ahead of parliamentary elections in Georgia, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister, Grigory Karasin, said.
“In the view of pre-election situation [in Georgia] fears are being cultivated about threat from Russia. Hysteria is ongoing almost a year already about Russia’s planned army drills Kavkaz-2012,” Karasin said in an interview with Russia’s news agency RIA Novosti published on August 8.
“There is an outcry about some kind of Russia’s plans to carry out aggression, to destroy the Georgian statehood,” he said and added that it was all part of Tbilisi’s “propagandistic delirium.”
“Explanations about the military exercises and also about our intensions have been given for multiple times both by our political leadership and the Russian diplomats. We are ready to explain it permanently, reassuring people living in this region. But Tbilisi’s propaganda machinery works at full speed and I am sure that in next two months we will be hearing more accusations in address of Moscow,” Karasin said, adding that it will take some time to replace “hysteria”, “emotional” and “provocative” statements with “serious politics.”
Deputy chief of the Russian General Staff, Colonel General Alexander Postnikov, said on August 7, that Kavkaz-2012 planned in southern Russia “do not pose a threat to other countries or military blocs” and added that the drills would only take place on the territory of Russia without involvement of military units based outside Russia.
Officials in Tbilisi are worried about the planned large scale exercises fearing that Russia might be trying to increase tensions in the region and deploy forces that can be used to attack Georgia just like in 2008; Russia held large-scale military maneuvers Kavkaz-2008 less than a month before the August war in 2008.
President Saakashvili said for number of times in recent months that the drills were timed by Russia deliberately to coincide with Georgia’s parliamentary elections.
“It is not a coincidence that our neighbor scheduled its large-scale military exercises for second half of September, just several days before elections [in Georgia]. This timing is really not a coincidence,” Saakashvili said in March. “All the efforts will be undertaken to discredit these elections – on the one hand to intimidate Georgians through use of force and on the other hand to bribe Georgian voters with money from that very same country [Russia].”
In the interview with RIA Novosti, Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister claimed that units of Georgian special task forces were infiltrating into breakaway Abkhazia’s Gali district, predominantly populated by ethnic Georgians, with a purpose “to terrorize” the local population.
“Georgia is trying to destabilize situation in the Gali district,” Karasin said. “It shows, that revanchist scenario, forceful methods of restoration of territorial integrity still live in the heads of the most zealous politicians in Tbilisi. We should take into consideration.”