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http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/World/2008/ ... 66-ap.html

Georgia, US start military exercises despite tensions with Russia





TBILISI, Georgia (AP) — Georgian and U.S. troops started a joint military exercise Tuesday amid growing tensions between the ex-Soviet republic and Russia, a Georgian defense ministry official said.

About 1,200 U.S. servicemen and 800 Georgians will train for three weeks at the Vaziani military base near the Georgian capital, Tbilisi, ministry spokesman Mindiya Arabuli said. He said the drills were planned months ago and are not related to recent tensions over two separatist Georgian regions that are backed by Moscow.

Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili has courted the United States and sent a large contingent of troops to Iraq. His efforts to move Georgia from under Russia’s shadow and into NATO have angered Moscow, which has stepped up support for the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

Also Tuesday, the Russian Defense Ministry started a military exercise in the nearby North Caucasus region. Ministry spokesman Yuri Ivanov said the drill had “nothing to do” with the Georgian-U.S. maneuvers.

Georgia claims a string of recent explosions and border skirmishes in Abkhazia and South Ossetia are part of a Russian plan to annex the regions, while Russia claims Georgia is gearing up for a mid to take control of the regions by force.



http://russiatoday.ru/news/news/28684


The Georgian war – minute by minute
23:30 GMT - Shortly after his trip to Vladikavkaz Russia's Prime Minister Vladimir Putin meets with Russian President Dmitry Medvedev to discuss the crisis in South Ossetia.
23:00 GMT - UN Security Council for the third time fails to make a decision on the conflict in South Ossetia.17:05 - Abkhazian official have announced that the republic’s troops have entered the Gail district bordering Georgia.

20:00 GMT - The UN Security Council gathers once again to discuss the situation in South Ossetia.

15:45 GMT - 76 Airborne Brigade of the Russian Army arrives in the conflict region - Russian military officials.

15:20 GMT – Prime Minister Putin arrives in Russia’s republic of North Ossetia to discuss aid for the refugees arriving from South Ossetia.

14:19 GMT – Russia’s Interfax news agency quotes locals in Georgia claiming convoys of ‘NATO military vehicles’ are travelling to South Ossetia.

14:02 GMT – Fifty journalists in Tskhinvali ask Russia, Georgia and United States to organise safe passage for them and civilian refugees.

14:16 GMT – South Ossetian President says second Georgian assault on Tskhinvali was repelled.

14:13 GMT – Georgian troops are regrouping ‘ready to repel any attack’, says Georgian Interior Ministry.

13:50 GMT - UN High Commissioner for Refugees confirms up to 7,400 people flee from South Ossetia.

13:34 GMT – At least 2,000 people were killed in Tskhinvali -Russia’s ambassador to Georgia.

13:16 GMT – Russia considers bringing the killing of peacekeepers to the international court - Foreign Ministry.

13:03 GMT – Tbilisi may ask the West for military aid – head of Georgia’s national security council.

12:53 GMT – Bush assures Medvedev he will help return the situation in South Ossetia to the sphere of diplomacy.

12:53 GMT – Georgian troops block 2,000 refugees from fleeing South Ossetia – Russian Foreign Ministry.

12:48 GMT – Medvedev tells Bush by phone: ‘Russia is forcing Georgia to peace, protecting the lives and dignity of its citizen’ - Ria Novosti.

12:30 GMT – Websites from the .ru domain are blocked in Tbilisi – Russian embassy.

11:52 GMT – Abkhazia says it has launched an offensive against Georgian troops in the Kodory gorge.

11:05 GMT – Saakashvili calls for an immediate ceasefire, accuses Russia of invasion.

11:09 GMT – Georgian parliament approves declaration of martial law in the country.

10:34 GMT – Georgian media report Russia has bombed Tbilisi-controlled villages in Abkhazia.

10:16 GMT – Georgia is de facto at war with Russia – Georgian Foreign Ministry.

10:10 GMT – Georgian websites are under attack – Saakashvili.

10:02 GMT – Georgian artillery resumes shelling the peacekeepers’ headquarters in Tskhinvali, according to Interfax.

09:40 GMT – Georgia has 50 dead and 450 wounded after three days of battles – unidentified military source in the conflict zone, quoted by the Interfax news agency.

09:00 – Georgia to declare martial law – President Mikhail Saakashvili.

08:59 GMT – Georgian troops ‘surrender and flee’ in Tskhinvali – peacekeeping commander.

08:59 GMT – Georgian media claim a Russian pilot has been captured after two planes were shot down. Another was found dead, reports say.

08:46 – Experts from the EU, the US and the OSCE are to mediate in the Georgian-Ossetian conflict – office of EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana.

08:32 GMT – The use of multiple-launch rocket systems by Georgia caused mass civilian losses – Russian military.

08:32 GMT – Georgia is building up forces near the Abkhazian border, according to Abkhazian officials.

08:24 GMT – Russian military denies bombing civilians in Georgia.

08:20 GMT – Russian military admits loosing two aircraft in South Ossetian conflict.

07:54 – Russian troops do not control Tskhinvali so they resort to air strikes – Georgian official.

07:54 – Moscow accuses Kiev of encouraging the Georgian offensive by supplying Tbilisi with arms.

07:40 GMT – Russian units ‘have cleared Tskhinvali of Georgian troops’, according to the commander of Russia’s ground forces, General Boldirev.

07:24 GMT – Russian paratrooper units arrive in South Ossetia.

07:22 GMT – Peacekeeping commander reports Russian troops have suppressed the intensive bombardment of Tskhinvali by Georgian military.

07:16 GMT – U.S. Ministry of State condemns Russia’s ‘use of strategic bombers and missiles’ against Georgia.

07:15 GMT – Russian Emergencies Ministry sets up temporary refugee camps in southern Russia.

07:12 GMT – Tskhinvali death toll rises to 1,600 people, according to South Ossetian officials.

07:13 GMT – South Ossetia claims it has shot down a second Georgian fighter plane.

07:06 GMT – NATO has no mandate to interfere in the South Ossetian conflict - alliance official.

07:04 GMT – An estimated 30,000 refugees have fled South Ossetia over the past 1.5 days - Russian Government official.

06:56 GMT – Those responsible for the humanitarian crisis in South Ossetia must be held responsible for their actions – Medvedev.

06:46 GMT – Georgia to withdraw all its troops from Iraq – Reuters agency.

06:48 GMT – Georgia says Russian aircraft have bombed a telecom site in the Georgian city of Gori.

05:56 GMT – Georgia’s Defence Minister reports that his country’s troops are advancing into South Ossetian territory.

05:51 GMT – South Ossetians say Georgian snipers are hampering the transfer of the wounded to hospitals.

05:51 GMT – Georgian media reports 12 Georgian soldiers were killed during bombing of a military base by Russian aircraft.

05:46 GMT – Russian peacekeepers have launched a peace enforcing operation in South Ossetia – Medvedev.

05:30 GMT - Russian Special Forces attachment arrives on outskirts of Tskhinvali – Russian military source

05:15 GMT – Russian unit breaks through to peacekeepers base camp, says military official. Evacuation of wounded soldiers starts.

05:09 GMT – South Ossetians claims Georgian troops captured hostages while retreating.

05:02 GMT – Russian military prosecutors launch an investigation into peacekeeper deaths in South Ossetia.

05:02 GMT – Russian military prosecutors launch an investigation into peacekeepers deaths in South Ossetia.

04:03 GMT – Russia sends special forces troops to South Ossetia.

03:56 GMT – Three Russian peacekeepers die overnight, raising the total death toll for peacekeeping forces to 15 - Russian military.

03:45 GMT – Evacuees report to Russian military that Georgian artillery shelled a convoy with wounded people - Interfax

02:00 GMT – U.S. condemns Russia’s ‘military actions against Georgia’, announces U.S. envoy to the United Nations.

00:10 GMT – The shelling of Tshinvali stops.



http://english.aljazeera.net/news/europ ... 41998.html


US army exercises begin in Georgia


The Georgian and US military exercise involve around 1,650 servicemen [EPA]

The United States and Russia are holding military exercises on either side of the Caucasus mountains amid increasing tensions over the fate of two separatist regions in ex-Soviet Georgia.

Almost 8,000 Russian servicemen began anti-terrorism exercises on Tuesday across Russia's north Caucasus region, which borders Georgia, a spokesman for the Russian army said.

In Georgia itself, a total of around 1,650 soldiers form the US, Georgia and several other East European countries, have begun exercises on the formerly Russian-controlled Vaziani base, the Georgian defence ministry said.

Tensions between Georgia and Russia have soared in recent months as Moscow has increased its support for Georgia's separatist regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

The Russian exercises were planned a year ago and "are in no way related to the US-Georgian activities," Igor Konashenkov, a Russian army spokesman said.

Russian 'peacekeeping'

Moscow has also been angered by Georgia's moves to join the Nato.

Nana Intskirveli, a spokeswoman for the Georgian defence ministry, said the exercises were taking part under the auspices of the military alliance.

She said Armenian, Azerbaijani and Ukrainian staff officers were are also taking part in the exercises, which will last for three weeks.

Konashenkov said the Russian exercises were in part designed to prepare forces for peacekeeping work in Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

"In connection with the aggravated situation of the Georgian-Abkhazian and Georgian-Ossetian conflicts... we will also work on participation in special operations to bring peace to zones of armed conflicts," he said.

Around 700 pieces of military hardware will be used during the exercises, he said.



http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1843909.stm


US military advisers arrive in Georgia


US and Georgia say Americans will not be involved in combat

Five US military advisers have arrived in the former Soviet republic of Georgia, in what is being seen as a possible new front in the US war on terror.


As long as there is al-Qaeda influence anywhere we will help the host countries rout them and bring them to justice

US President George W Bush
At least US six helicopters have also been sent, and unconfirmed US media reports say up to 200 special forces may be deployed.

The US is stepping in because of reports that fighters allied with Osama Bin Laden's al-Qaeda terror network may have escaped to Georgia.

President George W Bush defended US military plans, after Russia, which has traditionally regarded Georgia as part of its sphere of influence, had criticised the US involvement.

"As long as there is al-Qaeda influence anywhere we will help the host countries rout them and bring them to justice," Mr Bush said.

'New front'

The US and Georgia insist that the Americans will not be involved in combat, but will train the Georgian army in how to counter militant activity.



The helicopters - which arrived last autumn - are not equipped for carrying out air attacks, and will be used only to transport men and equipment, officials say.

However, their deployment is the first confirmed arrival of US military hardware in Georgia.

The US forces will have the right to act in self-defence, said a Pentagon spokesman.

The focus of US attention is the remote Pankisi Gorge, close to Georgia's border with the Russian breakaway republic of Chechnya.

Washington is concerned that the Georgian authorities are unable to control the security situation there.

The US and Russia both believe that al-Qaeda suspects may be hiding in the gorge area, where militants who operate in Chechnya are also believed to be based.



There is no question of a joint operation with another country. We will use only our forces

Irakly Alasania, Georgia's Deputy State Security Minister

But Russian officials are deeply unhappy at the prospect of US involvement, suspecting such co-operation is aimed at reducing their country's influence.

"We think it could further aggravate the situation in the region, which is difficult as it is. That is our position and Washington is well aware of it," Russian Foregn Minister Igor Ivanov told ORT public television.

Georgia has been trying to reduce Russian influence over its affairs, sparking an angry war of words between the two countries over recent months.

Special forces

The BBC's Stephen Eke says co-operation between the former Soviet republics and the US is viewed with suspicion in Russia.


Allies of Al-Qaeda are said to be hiding in Georgia


The exact scale of the US involvement remains unclear.

Several US media outlets, quoting military officials, have reported that up to 200 special forces could be sent in, but this has not been confirmed by either the US Government or Georgia.

Georgia's Deputy State Security Minister, Irakly Alasania, stressed that all US involvement would be restricted to training.

"There is no question of a joint operation with another country," he said. "We will use only our forces."

Correspondents say the Americans are viewing the Georgian operation as a possible new front against global terrorism.

As well as the operations against al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, US troops are actively involved in efforts by the Philippine Government to contain Muslim guerrillas that Washington believes to have links with al-Qaeda.
WATCH/LISTEN

ON THIS STORY

The BBC's Jim Fish
"The word from Washington is a small number of troops are being ear-marked for Georgia"






Full coverage


'Dirty bomb' threat
What is a 'dirty bomb'?
Health effects
Terror fight questioned
'Dirty bomb' suspect
Q&A: Legal wrangling


Intelligence war
Security super-agency
Q&A: US intelligence
Intelligence failings


Afghan operation
Continuing threat
Long war?
Bounty threat
Mobility the key


Worldwide campaign
Map: War on terror
Somalia's role
Yemen battle

TALKING POINT

How should the US treat suspects?

FORUM

The al-Qaeda network

IN DEPTH

Inside Camp X-Ray
Airline security options
America's Day of Terror
The investigation


See also:


27 Feb 02 | Europe
US role in Georgia alarms Russia
25 Feb 02 | Europe
Georgia security boss 'commits suicide'
10 Oct 01 | Europe
Analysis: Georgia's tinderbox region
31 Dec 01 | Country profiles
Country profile: Georgia
Internet links:


Parliament of Georgia
US Department of Defence

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http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m ... i_87509631



Green Berets now in Georgia: U.S. Special Forces are training Georgian soldiers to fight radical Muslims. The mission could benefit other U.S. interests as well
VFW Magazine, June-July, 2002 by Tim Dyhouse
E-mail Print Link President George Bush called the May deployment of some 150 U.S. advisers to Georgia the latest front in the U.S. war on terrorism. Much like their fellow soldiers in the Philippines, U.S. Special Forces are teaching Georgian soldiers how to better fight Muslim extremists within their country. Also, as in the Philippines, U.S. troops are not permitted to engage in combat.

"So long as there's al Qaeda anywhere, we will help the host countries root them out and bring them to justice," Bush has said.

Georgia is the first former Soviet republic to train with U.S. troops since Sept. 11. (Several other ex-Soviet states have allowed the use of their airfields.) The mission gives Washington a strategic toehold to help stabilize the oil-rich and volatile Caspian Sea region.

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Today's Best Part-Time Jobs Dubbed a "train-and-equip" mission, the $64 million program mandates that GIs (including men of the Fort Carson, Colo.-based 10th Special Forces Group) train four Georgian rapid deployment battalions (about 1,500 soldiers) for anti-terrorism and counterinsurgency operations.

The aid package includes equipment for the soldiers and 10 "unarmed Huey helicopters," according to the Pentagon. The area of the training's focus is Georgia's lawless Pankisi Gorge, northeast of the capital Tbilisi, near Chechnya.

"We can't control everything that is going on there, and unless we tackle the Pankisi problem, this issue will create a threat to Georgia's integrity and the security of the region," according to Valery Khaburdzania, Georgia's top security officer.

The 36-square-mile, heavily forested valley is purportedly a haven for criminals, rebels fighting Russian troops in Chechnya and Islamic militants fleeing the war in Afghanistan. The 4-mile wide by 11-mile long gorge has 18 villages that host Arabs among the 10,000 inhabitants.

"As for al Qaeda, according to our information, several tens of mujahadeen fled from Afghanistan and hide now in the Caucasus," said Philip Remler, a U.S. diplomat in Tbilisi. Bush firmly believes that "terrorists working with al Qaeda operate in the Pankisi Gorge."

Added Pentagon spokeswoman Victoria Clarke, "We value our military-to-military relationship with Georgians, which clearly predates Sept. 11. And we have always been and remain committed to their efforts to improve their internal security."

Georgia, a predominantly Christian nation (65% Christian, 11% Muslim) with a population of 5 million, is situated near vast Caspian Sea oil reserves. From the U.S. perspective, a friendly and stable Georgia will allow the free flow of oil from the Caspian.

But as the Baltimore Sun editorialized, "Georgia doesn't care about Pankisi--it cares about its own secessionists on the other side of the country. It's unlikely Washington cares about Pankisi, either--U.S. interests in Georgia begin and end with the pipeline that will carry Caspian Sea oil west to the developed world."

The aforementioned secessionists are Muslims inhabiting the western territory of Abkhazia. These rebels drove the Georgian army out of the area in 1993, a conflict that left 10,000 dead and displaced 300,000 mainly Christian Georgians from their homes. Loyal Georgians hope the U.S. presence can help end the turmoil.

"The day I heard the Americans were coming I was the happiest man on earth," said Alexander Rondeli, a political analyst in Tbilisi. "The feeling was that someone strong and powerful was coming to support me and my country."

The Center for Strategic and International Studies' Zeyno Baran agrees with the U.S. troop presence. "With all the risks, it is not going to be a clean operation. But given what's going on in the Pankisi Gorge, it was the right decision."

American War Fatalities

Four U.S. soldiers were accidentally killed April 15 in Kandahar, Afghanistan, while clearing explosives.

Staff Sgt. Brian T. Craig, 710th Explosive Ordnance Detachment

Staff Sgt. Justin J. Galewski, 710th Explosive Ordnance Detachment

Sgt. Jamie O. Maugans, 710th Explosive Ordnance Detachment

Sgt. 1st Class Daniel A. Romero, 19th Special Forces Group

COPYRIGHT 2002 Veterans of Foreign Wars of the United States
COPYRIGHT 2008 Gale, Cengage Learning

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http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2002/fe ... a.chechnya


Russia angry at US war plan for GeorgiaSecurity officials from the state of Georgia are worried that American and British forces may attack suspected Islamist terrorists near the Russian borderIan Traynor in Moscow The Guardian, Friday February 22 2002 Article historySecurity officials from the post-Soviet state of Georgia are expected for talks in London and Washington amid growing signs that American and British forces are gearing up to attack suspected Islamist terrorists holed up in the north of the country, near the Russian border.
But the state department has signalled that Russia is not being considered a participant in the US plans.

Moscow believes it is being marginalised despite its intense pressure on Georgia to allow it to bomb Chechen separatist fighters sheltering in the region. Russia's domestic intelligence chief, Nikolai Patrushev, made a sudden visit to Tbilisi, the Georgian capital, yesterday to discuss a security situation which shows every sign of turning critical.

"We just can't put up with this," said Sergei Ivanov, the Russian defence minister, demanding that Georgia act "promptly and effectively" to establish control over a region he described as a "mini-Chechnya or mini-Afghanistan".

Moscow and Washington say the Pankisi gorge region, by the mountainous border with Chechnya, has been infiltrated by al-Qaida or Taliban suspects fleeing Afghanistan.

Last week a senior American diplomat in Tbilisi said the US planned to train Georgian counter-terrorist forces, and Moscow's Nezavisimaya Gazeta reported that a small group of US military advisers had arrived in the capital on Tuesday.

President Eduard Shevardnadze's government, which had previously dismissed Moscow's claims that the gorge was a lawless stronghold of Chechen militants and foreign Islamists, has angered Russia by turning to the west .

Russia's hardline chief of staff, General Anatoly Kvashnin, insisted yesterday: "Russia and Georgia should jointly eradicate this terrorist centre in the Pankisi gorge."

Rejecting Russian military intervention, Mr Shevardnadze said this week that he was open to dialogue on "future joint action with US special forces in the Pankisi gorge". Valery Khaburdzania, the Georgian state security chief, is expected in London and Washington early next month.

Any US military role would entail intervention directly on Russia's southern border and might also be construed in Moscow as US interference in the Chechnya war.

Yesterday, a group of retired Russian army generals, including a former defence minister, branded Russia's president, Vladimir Putin, a western lackey and traitor for cooperating with Washington in its war in Afghanistan..

"With your [Putin's] blessing, the United States has received military bases in Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, and, maybe, Kazakhstan," they declared in a published broadside at the Kremlin. "In the long run, these bases are for dealing a strike on Russia, not Bin Laden. We would not be surprised if tomorrow they call you the best American, European or Nato official."
 
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