Sunday, August 10, 2008

Russian war ships sail for Georgia

Russia Today reports:

The Russian Navy has confirmed that a section of its Black Sea Fleet is en route to the Georgian coastline. The task force includes a missile cruiser. Military officials insist the operation is to help refugees and is not part of an operation to blockade Georgia.

According to a source in the Russia’s defense ministry, three assault ships were earlier sent to the same destination.

‘This is not a sea-blockade, as a blockade would mean a state of war with Georgia, while we are not in a state of war’, the source said.

Georgia’s National Security Council Secretary, Aleksandr Lomaya, earlier said that Russian ships have reached the Abkhazian port of Ochamchir.

Ukraine may bar Russia from Black Sea

Ukraine’s Foreign Ministry has announced that Russian ships returning from the Georgian shore may be refused permission to enter its territorial waters in the Black Sea.

The ministry says Ukraine doesn’t want to be involved in the conflict between Russia and Georgia. It underlines that the move corresponds with the international law.

Meanwhile, Moscow remains unconvinced about Ukrainian claims of neutrality.

Referring to the shooting down of a Russian Tu-22 bomber over Georgia, the Defence Ministry says the Georgian military would have needed a C-200 anti-aircraft system to carry out the attack.

According to Russia, the Georgian army did not possess such equipment before the conflict.

Only Russia and Ukraine are armed with C-200 anti-aircraft systems, which is leading Russian defence officials to suspect that Kiev may have sold the equipment to Georgia.
Commentary: info from Jane's seems to dispute this version. Check out this 2004 report:

Georgia to upgrade its air defences


Appearing in
Jane's Missiles and Rockets

Publication date
Oct 13, 2004

Georgian Defence Minister Giorgi Baramidze has denied reports that Georgia intends to buy Lockheed Martin Patriot surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems from the US. Russian fixed-wing aircraft and helicopters have made repeated incursions into Georgian airspace during recent anti-terrorist operations in attempts to deal with the perceived threat of terrorists. In response, Georgia intends to improve its air-defence systems, but Baramidze has been quoted as saying that the cost of Patriot makes such procurement "unrealistic". The upgraded defences will have to be based on Russian or East European hardware.

The Georgian Air Force currently operates the S-75M Volkhov (SA-2 'Guideline'), S-125-M Pechora (SA-3 'Goa'), and S-200 Angara (SA-5 'Gammon'). All are obsolescent and would need to be upgraded. Reports that the army has 9K31 Strela-1 (SA-9 'Gaskin') self-propelled short-range SAM systems to supplement its 9K32/9K32M Strela-2/Strela-2M (SA-7a/b 'Grail'), 9K36 Strela-3 (SA-14 'Gremlin') and 9K310 Igla-1 (SA-16 'Gimlet') man-portable SAM systems have never been confirmed.