Russia’s Influence over the Field of Security in Tskhinvali Region is Growing: Support for Full Integration
Author: Mamuka Komakhia, Analyst
After the 2008 Russia-Georgia War, the control of Russia over the security field in the occupied regions of Georgia is growing every year. The level of influence of the Kremlin is especially high in Tskhinvali region, leaders of which talk about merging with Russia openly. The events unfolding recently make it clear that Russia is taking full responsibility over the field of security in Tskhinvali region.
The Fourth Russian Military Base and the Integration in the Military Field
After the 2008 Russia-Georgia War, the protection of the interests of the Russian Federation in the field of defense in Tskhinvali region is ensured by the Fourth Russian Military Base. Aleksander Kravtsov has been commanding the base since September 2016. The Fourth Russian Military Base has been in Tskhinvali region since 2009 and it houses about 4,000 military personnel.
The Fourth Russian Military Base, much like the Seventh Russian Military Base operating in Abkhazia, is subject to the Southern Military District of the Russian Federation. The District has been headed by Aleksander Dvornikov since 2016. Dvornikov personally oversees the processes and projects taking place in the field of defense in Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region, inspecting them being his direct responsibility.
The steps recently taken by the parties indicate that Tskhinvali region will not be retaining its illegitimate military units for much longer. On 31 March 2017, the Minister of Defense of Russia and the de-facto Minister of Defense of Tskhinvali region signed an agreement on the incorporation of certain separatist military units into the armed forces of the Russian Federation. According to the new agreement, the soldiers of Tskhinvali region will now be able to serve on the Fourth Russian Military Base as well.
Before the full abolition of the Tskhinvali region armed forces, Russian militaries retain top positions in the de-facto armed forces of Tskhinvali region. The First Deputy de-facto Minister of Defense and the Head of the General Staff of Tskhinvali region is the representative of Russia, much like it is in Abkhazia as well. Before being appointed as the Head of the General Staff, Viktor Fedorov, who has been living in Tskhinvali since June 2011, worked on various positions in the armed forces of Tskhinvali region.
Integration in the Russian Law-Enforcement System
Unlike Abkhazia, where implementing joint projects in the field of security with Russia is openly criticized by parts of the public and political elite, in Tskhinvali region the integration of the local law-enforcement structures in the Russian law-enforcement system enjoys strong support. Hence, the Kremlin has taken over much more authorities in terms of law-enforcement in Tskhinvali, than it has in Abkhazia. The decision of the de-facto Ministry of Internal Affairs of Tskhinvali region to reduce the number of employees from 1,600 to 1,150 from 2019 also indicates a high level of integration with Russia.
Signing the agreement on creating the Joint Information-Coordination Center among the Ministries of Internal Affairs of Russia and Tskhinvali region, signed on 4 July 2016, is also a significant step towards deepening cooperation in the field of law enforcement. From the Russian side the agreement was signed by the Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Russia, Igor Zubov, who supervises the occupied regions of Georgia on the part of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation.
According to Zubov’s assessment, the Center will be a legally independent service, whilst practically it will be an international organization, the first head of the structure being a local person. The aim of the Center is to coordinate the work of the Russian and Ossetian law enforcement structures in terms of battling organized crime and other violent criminal activity. In order to achieve its goal the Center is expected to record, analyze and exchange the information connected with criminal activity. The work of the Center will entirely be funded by the Russian side.
Despite the negative attitudes towards the formation of such a Center in Abkhazia, it has already started operating and the Head of the Center has already been appointed. In Tskhinvali region, there are still some preparatory works taking place. During his meeting with the de-facto President of Tskhinvali region on 26 June 2017, Zubov stated that “the creation of the Information-Coordination Center in Tskhinvali is a done deal”. According to Zubov’s statement, the funding for opening the Center already exists and it must be used up until the end of 2017, with money being spent on the capital rehabilitation of the building and equipping the Center with modern technologies.
The Center will employ 23 people from the de-facto Ministry of Internal Affairs of Tskhinvali region and seven people from the Ministry of Internal Affairs of the Russian Federation. It is interesting to note that due to the discontent with the formation of the Center in Abkhazia, it will have 20 employees (10 from each side) there. At the same time, in the case of Tskhinvali the agreement specifies that the working language of Center will be Russian. Unlike Abkhazia, the Officers of the Center in Tskhinvali region will also be authorized to hold, carry and use weapons, also being allowed to conduct operations and carry out investigations.
Due to the delays of the activation of the Center a new panel was created in the de-facto Ministry of Internal Affairs of Tskhinvali region in October 2017, tasked with resolving the issues connected with the creation of the Center.
Strengthening the Occupation Line
On 30 April 2009, an agreement was signed between the leaders of the Russian Federation and Tskhinvali region on the “Joint Measures for Protecting the State Border of South Ossetia”. It is the responsibility of the Border Police Department of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation to “protect” the 467.4 km de-facto border of the occupied Tskhinvali region, which also includes the 391.4 km “border” with Georgia.
Since March 2017, Major General Anatoly Utkin, the Head of the Border Police Department has been in charge of “protecting” the de-facto border of the occupied region with Georgia. On 30 June 2017, the newly elected de-facto President of Tskhinvali region, Anatoly Bibilov held a meeting with Utkin, demanding that he improve the border security with Georgia. More specifically, according to Bibilov, the “violation of borders” by the Georgians must be eradicated fully. It is Utkin’s structure that is arresting Georgians near the occupation line. Since 2009, his Department has arrested and detained over 900 Georgians with the charge of crossing the so-called border.
After 2008 Russia-Georgia War, in terms of the illegal process of “borderization”, the Department has been installing barbed wires, fences and so-called border demarcating banners, as well as digging the trenches and making anti-fire structures, as a result of which the land that has been controlled by the Government of Georgia since 2008 War end up within the occupied territories.
The occupation line, which has practically turned into Russia-Georgia border, has become even more “secure” lately. A so-called border zone has been created in Tskhinvali region, where the citizens of Tskhinvali region and Russia can only enter through special passes. The overall area of the border zone is 693 sq. kilometers. The minimum distance between the occupation line and the border zone is 100 meters whilst maximum is 8 kilometers.
- After the 2008 Russia-Georgia War and the recognition of the independence of Tskhinvali region by the Russian Federation, the aim of the Kremlin’s policy is to establish full control over the domestic processes taking place in Tskhinvali, including the fields of defense, policing and securing the de-facto border, in which the Kremlin has the support of the local illegitimate government as well.
- The recent steps taken by the Kremlin in Tskhinvali region indicate that the full or at least partial integration of the armed forces and law enforcement structures of Tskhinvali region into the corresponding structures of the Russian Federation is a practically irreversible process.
- The growth of the influence of Russia over the security field of Tskhinvali is further reinforced by the existing consensus in the separatist republic about the issue of integrating with Russia. However, at the same time it should also be noted that in Abkhazia, where there is no such consensus on the issue, the Russian influence has been growing regardless.
- The actions of the Border Police Department of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation have turned the occupation line into a de-facto Georgia-Russia border. The actions of the Russian border control forces on the occupation line endangers the security, private property and economic activity of the Georgian citizens, especially those living near the occupation line.
- The growing control over the field of security in both Abkhazia as well as Tskhinvali region exerted by Russia and the development of military infrastructure near the occupation line since 2008 is the main challenge for the security of Georgia.
- Moldova’s challenges alongside the war in Ukraine
- Is Israel's New Government Shifting its Policy towards the Russia-Ukraine War?
- What does Russia want from Georgia?
- The Ninth Package of Sanctions - in Response to the Russian Escalation and Missile Attacks
- The Danger Russia’s Neighbors May Face after the Russo-Ukrainian War
- Belarus and Russia deepen trade and economic relations with occupied Abkhazia: A prerequisite for recognition of Abkhazia's “independence”?
- "Captured emotions" - Russian propaganda
- The Eighth Package of Sanctions - Response to Russian Annexation and Illegal Referendums
- What’s next for Italy’s foreign policy after Giorgia Meloni’s victory?
- War in Ukraine and Russia’s declining role in the Karabakh peace process
- The Russian Exclave of Kaliningrad and the Lithuanian "Sting"
- Seventh Package of Sanctions and Embargo on Russian Gold
- What could be the cost of “Putin’s face-saving” for European relations
- Failed Tskhinvali Referendum
- The War and Georgia
- "Autocratic Peace"
- “Rural Orbanism”- Polarization as a determinant for Hungary's political future
- Illegal Presidential Elections in the Tskhinvali Region: Why Bibilov Lost and What to Anticipate in Future
- How to Respond to Russian Ultra-Orthodox-Historic-Hegemonism?
- The War in Ukraine and the UK’s New Role in Eastern Europe
- What Will the Abolition of the OSCE Minsk Group Bring to the South Caucasus?
- Why Has the Abkhaz Side Become More Active on Social Networks?
- Why a Neutral Ukraine Is Not on Putin’s Mind (Ukraine’s Neutral Status Is Getting Closer, but What Does It Mean to Putin?)
- Europe's energy future - challenges and opportunities
- Uncontrolled Mass Immigration and the Position of the Georgian Government
- Changes in Putin's propaganda narratives since the Russian invasion of Ukraine
- Positions and Actions of Turkey in the Russo-Ukrainian War
- NATO’s possible expansion in Northern Europe and its significance for Georgia and Ukraine
- Political Winter Olympics in Beijing
- What Is behind Putin’s Sudden Gambit in Ukraine?
- L'Europe pourra-t-elle éviter le “déjà vu” ? (France, President of the Council of the European Union, and the Tensions in Eastern Europe)
- US-Russia Relations and the Issue of Ukraine
- The New Targets of Ramzan Kadyrov’s Regime
- What Will the Post-Merkel Era Mean for the EU’s Russia and Eastern Neighbourhood Policy?
- What Lies Behind the Growing Cooperation of the Georgian and Hungarian Governments
- “Doberman” as a Minister: Inal Ardzinba’s Prospects and Challenges
- The Belarus Crisis: How to Enhance Our Resilience Against the Russian Strategy for Its Near-Neighborhood
- Moldova’s Gas Crisis Has Been Russia’s Yet Another Political Blackmailing
- Belarus One Year On: An Insecure Regime Under Russian “Protection”
- Russia’s Parliamentary Elections - What Can Be Said About the Regime’s Stability
- Can Georgia use China to balance Russia?
- The West vs Russia: The Reset once again?!
- Formation of a New “Political Elite” in Abkhazia - Who Will Replace the Old “Elite?”
- The Cyber-Dimension of the Geneva Summit
- Securitization of the Arctic: A Looming Threat of Melting Ice
- Europe in Anticipation of the Results of a “Harmful Deal”
- (Re)Mapping the EU’s Relations with Russia: Time for Change?
- USA, Liberal International Order, Challenges of 2021, and Georgia
- The Political Crisis in Moldova: A Deadlock without the Way Out?
- Russia's Testing or Bullying?
- ‘Vaccine Diplomacy’: A New Opportunity for Global Authoritarian Influence?
- The End of the Russian Natural Gas Monopoly in Balkans
- Who did the judge sentence: Navalny, Putin or Russia?
- 2020 Developments in Abkhazia: “Elections,” the Pandemic and Deeper Integration with Russia
- Could Belarus Become a Prelude to the Great Polish-Swedish War 400 Years Ago?
- Vladimir Putin's Annual Grand Press Conference - Notable Elements and Messages
- Russia’s Energy Policy in the Tskhinvali Region
- Who Won and Who Lost with the War in Karabakh?
- What Russia has Gained in Karabakh
- What Armenia Did and Did not Lose as a Result of the Ceasefire Declaration in Karabakh
- Protests in Belarus, Lukashenko and the Russian Federation
- Some Thoughts on the Use of the Term „Post-Soviet Space“
- Khabarovsk Krai Protests as an Indicator of the Russian Federation’s Stability
- Trio Pandemic Propaganda: How China, Russia and Iran Are Targeting the West
- From Russia with… a Canny Plan
- “Elections” in Abkhazia: New “President’s” Revanche and Challenges
- Georgians Fighting the Same Battle 99 Years Later
- Confrontation between Russia and Turkey in Syria
- Political Crisis in Occupied Abkhazia
- What is the Significance of Killing General Qasem Soleimani?
- What Will the New Dialogue Format with Russia Bring for Georgia?
- On the “Russian Culture Center” in Georgia
- Main Messages of Russian Propaganda
- What do we know about the meeting of the Foreign Ministers of the Russian Federation and Georgia?
- New Focuses of the Anti-Occupation Policy
- Vladimir Putin’s Main Messages in his Interview with the Financial Times
- Georgia and Russia’s Post-modern Fascism
- Dugin has Come Out as a Supporter of Georgia – How Did This Happen?
- Deterring Russia
- On NATO, Russia and Pat Buchanan
- Modern Russia’s Own Wars of Religion
- Bolton’s visit to Moscow– what to expect in U.S-Russia relations?
- The Risk of the Renewal of the Karabakh Conflict after the Velvet Revolution in Armenia
- The Situation in Syria’s Idlib Province, Interests of the Parties and Threats
- The Helsinki Summit and its General Results
- Why It Is Necessary to Know the Day the Russo-Georgian War of 2008 Started
- Georgia’s Position in the Westernization Index 2018
- Why Did the Results of the G7 Summit in Charlevoix not Meet Our Expectations?
- How to Win Cold War 2.0
- The Ben Hodges Model – a Real Way for Georgia’s Membership in NATO
- The Russian “Ambassador’s” Rotation in Abkhazia
- Why did the Foreign Ministers of G7 not remember Georgia during their 23 April 2018 Toronto Meeting?
- Georgia and the American Strategy
- Putin’s Pre-Election Economic Promises: Myth and Reality
- Let Geneva Stay the Way it is
- Turkey’s Military Operation in Afrin – a New Phase in the Syrian Conflict
- Kremlin New Appointments and the Occupied Regions of Georgia
- Dangers Originating from Russia and Georgia’s Security System
- Eurasian Custom Union and problems of Russian – Georgian FTA
- Is Georgia’s Export Growth Sustainable?
- Russia’s Influence over the Field of Security in Abkhazia is Increasing
- What Awaits the People of Gali?
- Growth of Military Spending and Relations with Russia: Azerbaijan trying to Gain Advantage over Armenia
- Disrupt and Distract: Russia’s Methodology of Dealing with the West
- Russian Diplomats in Georgia – who are they, how many of them are there and what are they up to
- Putin’s Visit to the Occupied Abkhazia: Was our Reaction Actually Adequate?
- Is it Acceptable for Georgia to Declare Neutrality?
- How to Stop the “Creeping Occupation”
- Kremlin’s Policy in the Occupied Regions of Georgia Moves to a New Stage
- Syrian Civil War in the Context of Regional Security
- The Winnable Second Round of Russia’s Neighbors’ Struggle against Its Imperialism
- Parliamentary Elections in Armenia – The Triumph of the Governing Party
- Current Foreign Policy of Georgia: How Effective is it in Dealing with the Existing Challenges?
- Military Resilience - a Needed Factor for NATO-Partners
- Observations on the Agreement Reached with Gazprom
- New Russian Weaponry in the Caucasus and Its Impact on Georgia’s NATO Aspiration