From the Jamestown Foundation: While the Obama visit is being prepared, Moscow is continuing military and propaganda preparations for a possible full-scale military invasion to change the present pro-Western regime of President Mikheil Saakashvili in Georgia. Senior Russian generals and diplomats have been accusing Georgia of preparing “a new aggression” (EDM, June 18). Last week a Georgian Lieutenant Alik Bzhania, 35, who served in the Georgian coast guard and apparently defected to Russian-controlled Abkhazia, was promoted by the Gazprom-owned liberal Ekho Moskvy radio. He was promptly given asylum and held a high profile press conference in Moscow. Bzhania announced, “Saakashvili is preparing an aggression and I do not want to fight Russia” (Interfax, June 19). A Moscow journalist that interviewed Bzhania, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Jamestown that the orders to publicize the defector came directly from Putin’s office. If Russia is planning full-scale military action in Georgia, it clearly needs an excuse that it is in self-defense – countering an alleged “Georgian aggression . . .”
On June 29, Russian troops begin massive military exercises on Georgia’s borders as well as in occupied Abkhazia and South Ossetia – Kavkaz 2009 (EDM, June 18). The exercises are planned to end on July 6, when Obama lands in Moscow. The troops will be deployed and fully ready to go into action for at least several weeks after July 6, which apparently makes July the most dangerous month in the troubled South Caucasus. Obama’s visit to Moscow may be the last slim hope to avoid a war: if the U.S. president understands the threat and decides to put Georgia at the center of his negotiations instead of START -which is deadlocked anyway by the BMD linkage. It may be still possible to pull off a diplomatic miracle by pressing or persuading Putin to stand back. (photo: Jamestown Foundation)
This raises a question: If Georgia is really planning to start a war, why is Russia going to such lengths to expel international observers who will be able to testify to the whole world how Georgia started the war?