A senior official of Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed in general terms yesterday that Russia is making preparations to reduce its troops in Georgia and Armenia. A ministerial commission has been tasked to plan the cuts and define "optimal force levels" to be retained in the region. The commission’s report is due by the end of the year. The reductions in the Transcaucasus form one aspect of Russia’s broader military reform, the official said.
In Tbilisi, the parliament’s Defense and Security Commission chairman, Revaz Adamia, and the deputy foreign minister, Mikhail Ukleba, stated yesterday that Moscow is unable financially to maintain its current troop levels in Georgia. The officials nevertheless served notice that Moscow will be asked to pay rent for the use of military facilities in Georgia by the remaining Russian troops. Georgia will also claim the military equipment and other property of the troops earmarked for withdrawal, the officials stated. They singled out for criticism Russian border troops controlling the traffic across the Georgian-Turkish border — an "absurd situation" which also jeopardizes plans to create the Eurasian transit corridor via Georgia. (Interfax, November 21) The timing of Moscow’s measure favors Georgia’s current effort to reduce the Russian military presence and take over some of the Russian troops’ functions, particularly in guarding the country’s borders. (See Monitor, November 21)
Old Debts Postponed and New Credits Granted for Kyrgyzstan.