Monday, August 18, 2008

A hard-earned Christmas present

A correspondent writes:

On looking back through my computer file on Georgia I found the following part of a Vladimir Socor EDM article relevant to recent events and to the likely delays in the departure of Russian troops:


GEORGIA’S HARD-EARNED CHRISTMAS PRESENT: RUSSIAN MILITARY OUT OF TBILISI

By Vladimir Socor EDM Tuesday, January 2, 2007

On December 25, 2006, the last personnel of Russia’s garrison in Tbilisi and the rump Headquarters of the Group of Russian Forces in the Transcaucasus (GRVZ) pulled out of Georgia’s capital and of the country altogether. Their unwilling, though ultimately precipitate, withdrawal crowns 15 years of Georgian efforts toward this goal. Moreover, the evacuation brings to a close more than 200 years of the Russian garrisoning of Tbilisi. The imperial Russian army under General Ivan Lazarev occupied Tbilisi in November 1799, using an invasion route from Ossetia (Itar-Tass, December 24)…

…(the withdrawal agreement) stipulated the closure of the GVRZ’s Tbilisi Headquarters by the end of 2008, as the final step in the withdrawal process. However, the Kremlin unexpectedly decided to start and complete the pullout from Tbilisi two years ahead of schedule. Under a worst-case line of speculation, Moscow may have calculated that its Tbilisi headquarters and garrison could have become hostages in the event of hostilities and that their evacuation gives Moscow somewhat greater leeway to initiate a political-military crisis.”
(my emphasis)

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