Publication: Monitor Volume: 5 Issue: 76

Ukrainian, Georgian and Azerbaijani units held on April 13-19 in Georgia a joint military exercise, the first to be held by the three countries. Held in conjunction with the inauguration of the Baku-Supsa oil pipeline and Poti-Odessa railway ferry line (see the Monitor, April 19), the exercise was witnessed during some of its phases by Presidents Eduard Shevardnadze of Georgia, Haidar Aliev of Azerbaijan and Leonid Kuchma of Ukraine, U.S. and Turkish officials and top executives of international oil companies.

The scenario laid out a situation in which “circles not interested in the pipeline’s normal functioning” attempt to organize various forms of disruption. The three platoon-size units practiced pipeline protection against sabotage and commando attacks. Using sites near Tbilisi and near Poti, they simulated rapid-intervention operations, helicopter-borne landings and antiterrorist combat under the operational command of the chief of Georgia’s General Staff, Major-General Johnny Pirtskhalaishvili. The more experienced Ukrainian unit, specialized in pipeline security, shared its experience with the Georgian and Azerbaijani units.

Defense Ministers Oleksandr Kuzmuk of Ukraine, Davit Tevzadze of Georgia and Safar Abiev of Azerbaijan supervised the exercise. The three ministers had met earlier this year in Baku and Tbilisi (see the Monitor, January 22, March 19, April 14) to plan this exercise, which constitutes a historic premiere in the post-Soviet world. It also serves to illustrate the unraveling of the Russian-devised CIS Collective Security Treaty, never joined by Ukraine, and now being abandoned by Georgia and Azerbaijan (Prime-News, Turan, UNIAN, AP, Reuters, April 16-19).

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