Russia deploys missiles in Ossetia
RUSSIA: Russia said Wednesday it had deployed high-precision air
defence missiles in the breakaway Georgian region of Abkhazia, sending a
defiant signal to Tbilisi and the West two years after a war with
The S-300 missile system bolstered Moscow’s military presence in the
disputed territory and drew an angry response from Georgia.
General Alexander Zelin, the commander of Russia’s air force, said
that air defences of other types had been deployed in Georgia’s other
Russian-backed rebel region, South Ossetia.
His comments, two years after Russia routed Georgian forces in a
five-day war that strained Moscow’s ties with the United States and
Europe, were reported by Russian news agencies.
“The task of these air defences is not only to cover the territories
of Abkhazia and South Ossetia but also to avert violations of their
state borders in the air and destroy any vehicle illegally penetrating
their air space, whatever the goal of its mission,” Zelin said. Zelin
said the air defence systems would also protect Russian bases in
Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
“At the same time, the task of air defence of Abkhazia and South
Ossetia will be also implemented by frontline and army aviation carrying
out combat duties there,” Zelin said.
Georgia reacted promptly, accusing Moscow of “strengthening its image
and role as an occupying country.”
“It shows ... not only that Russia does not intend to withdraw its
troops from Abkhazia and South Ossetia but that it is actually
strengthening its military control over these territories,” Eka
Tkeshelashvili, Georgia’s National Security Council secretary, told
The US State Department, however, said that Russian press reports had
indicated for some time that Moscow maintained S-300 missiles in
“This is the first time any Russian official has indicated that this
is the case. We have said many times that Russia must abide by its 2008
ceasefire commitments, and this is another instance in which the
Russians have failed to adhere to those commitments,” State Department
spokesman P.J. Crowley said in an email message.