RUSSIA INTENDS TO STRENGTHEN ITS POWER IN THE SOUTH CAUCASUS

The Messenger, Georgia
Dec 4 2013

By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Wednesday, December 4

Russia intends to strengthen its position in the South Caucasus.

President Vladimir Putin made a statement concerning the issue at
the Russian-Armenian Interregional Forum in Yerevan on December 2.

According to Putin, Russia has never planned to leave the region.

"On the contrary, we are going to strengthen our position in the
South Caucasus," Putin said.

He emphasized that the Russian position would strengthen, "relying
on the best inheritance from our ancestors and good relations with
all countries of the region, including Armenia."

Georgian Foreign Minister Maia Panjikidze "does not want to believe
that Russia might create a threat for Georgia."

She admitted that the Federation has already used all its levers
against our country.

"However, despite the fact, we might face certain threats from Russia.

It is known to us from where the threat might emerge," Panjikidze
stated.

She noted that Georgia has chosen its way of development and,
presumably, Russia will not take actions aimed at disrupting the
signing of the agreement with the European Union.

"Georgia and Russia are holding fruitful negotiations. We stand
for changes in our relations and I think that Russia is unlikely to
exacerbate them," she said.

Parliamentary majority member Davit Zurabishvili emphasized that
Georgia should respond to Russian attempts with more steps forward
to Europe.

Member of the United National Movement (UNM) Zurab Tchiaberashvili
made clear that Russia's aims are obvious. According to him, Russia
is trying to divide the world into various spheres of influence.

"Russia wants the states of the former Soviet Union to be under the
Federation's supervision. The attempt is illegal as it restricts the
freedom of states. The situation taking place in Ukraine is a vivid
example of the Russian policy," Tchiaberashvili stated.

Military analyst Tengiz Pkhaladze thinks that Russia does not wish
to lose its levers in the Caucasus region and will do its best to
retain them.

"Putin's visit to Armenia and the statements made to them serve
Russia's aim to preserve power in the region," Pkhaladze stressed.

Political analyst Vazha Beridze believes that the situation in Ukraine
and the developments there will result in serious effect on Russian
influence.

"If the West loses Ukraine, Russia might become the major leading
force for the post-Soviet states very soon," Beridze states.