The defense ministers of Russia and Georgia, Gen. Igor Rodionov and Lt. Gen. Vardiko Nadibaidze, conferred in Moscow and finalized a program of Russian military assistance to Georgia. The program, including a timetable, envisages inter alia the transfer of Russian armored personnel carriers, artillery, firearms, ammunition, and naval vessels to Georgia’s armed forces. Approved by Russia’s Defense Council, the program is to come into effect this month. The commander of Russia’s Federal Border Service, Gen. Andrei Nikolayev, is scheduled to visit Georgia also this month in order to renew cooperation with Georgia’s border troops. (Kontakt, November 12-13) The naval vessels had been a desideratum pushed by Georgia’s naval commander, Rear Adm. Aleksandr Javakhishvili, who remains in his post despite last week’s rumor of his resignation. (Sakinform, November 6-7)
Rodionov had announced the intention to resume military assistance to Georgia at last month’s meeting of the CIS countries’ defense ministers. The decision in effect reverses Moscow’s move to suspend that assistance program when Georgia warned that it would ask Russian troops to leave the country because of Moscow’s policy on the Abkhazia problem. Rodionov stated that he saw the program’s renewal as a positive incentive to Georgia to ratify the 1994 agreement, which would legalize Russian military bases in the country. Moscow’s reversal suggests that president Eduard Shevardnadze’s gamble in holding that agreement hostage to Russian support on Abkhazia might yield some momentary gains.
South Ossetia Not to Seek Early Unification with the North.