UP FROM THE MONTREUX: SUBMARINES FOR GEORGIA, AND NATO’S FUTURE IN THE BLACK SEA
Kirk GUSTA, Lasha TCHANTOURIDZE
Kirk Gusta, Graduate student, Department of Political Science, Dalhousie University, Halifax (Nova Scotia, Canada)
Lasha Tchanturidze, Ph.D., Research Associate and Adjunct Professor, Center for Defense and Security Studies, University of Manitoba (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada)
In October 2006, Russia’s Black Sea fleet conducted live fire maneuvers off Georgia’s Black Sea coast. According to Georgian officials, Russian ships were as close as 16 miles from the Georgia’s coastline. The live fire exercise disrupted civilian shipping in the area, as the Russian military vessels blocked the Georgian ports Poti, Supsa, and Batumi. The Russian government intended this exercise as a hostile act, as they declined to inform the Georgian counterparts of the movements of their vessels, and deliberately misinformed the public of the nature of the exercise. Defense Minister Ivanov labeled it part of Black Sea Harmony (BSH), a joint exercise with Turkey that is supposed to be conducted after advance planning. Ankara, however, rejected this claim, and expressed its surprise at such claims.
The October live fire exercise followed the Tbilisi-Moscow spy row, and signaled sharp deterioration of Russo-Georgian relations. After imposing comprehensive economic embargo on Georgia, and organizing mass deportations of ethnic Georgians from Russia, the Kremlin sharply highlighted vulnerabilities in Georgia’s defenses—its Black Sea coast has been virtually undefended from a potential sea invasion since the breakup of……………