Planned exercise of Russian army worries Tbilisi

RIA Novosti, Russia
Aug 24 2004


MOSCOW, August 24 (RIA Novosti) — Yesterday, Russia’s 58th Army
began an exercise in North Ossetia. “It is the largest exercise held
here this year,” a source in the army told a Kommersant correspondent.
Simultaneously the Russian peacekeepers launched an exercise in
western Georgia and Abkhazia.

The 58th Army’s exercise has no connection to the events around
Tskhinvali, as it was planned last year, says Colonel Vyacheslav
Sedov, head of the Defence Ministry’s press service.

Tbilisi, which is now in a ring of military exercises, rushed to
express its concern. Givi Targamadze, chairman of the Georgian
parliament’s defence and security committee, announced that if
Russian troops move towards Georgia, Tbilisi “will take appropriate
measures to protect its state border”. Defence Minister Georgy
Baramidze described the exercise at the Georgian border as display of
Russia’s non-constructive attitude.

The Russian army’s manoeuvres are not limited to the
Georgian-Ossetian region. Today, the North-Caucasian military
district will launch command and staff exercises featuring 5,500
reservists. Simultaneously, Armenia will host a joint
Russian-Armenian exercise using MiG-29 fighters and Su-25 attack