Dangers Originating from Russia and Georgia’s Security System
Author: Giorgi Bilanishvili
The aggressive actions taken by the Russian Federation first in Ukraine and then in Syria in recent years have made clear that this country is using its political-military abilities quite efficiently. In parallel to this, the activities of the Russian intelligence agencies have increased in intensity, attempting to implement the missions set to them practically all around the world. Clear indication of this is, for example, the investigation in the United States about the possible Russian interference in the 2016 Presidential Elections. The US Presidential Elections has not been the only case – similar threats were being discussed during the parliamentary or presidential elections taking place in the Netherlands, France or Germany. Russian propaganda is a separate matter entirely, in which along with the Russian intelligence agencies and media sources numerous state institutions and Russian or foreign experts are involved as well. It should be pointed out that Russian propaganda is quite effective, as Russia has managed to start establishing itself as a protector of traditional values, which contributes to the growth of its popularity.
All of the aforementioned actions taken by the Russian Federation serve one major purpose – returning to the world arena with a status of a great power. Moscow cannot imagine achieving this goal without restoring its exclusive influence in its neighborhood. This should be considered the source of the danger coming from Russia towards Georgia, as a sovereign state, which has made its choice in favor of European and Euro-Atlantic integration.
In a time when Russia is working very actively almost all around the world to boost its influence, Georgia cannot, of course, feel itself secure. In such a situation it is important to correctly assess what specific dangers are coming from Russia and how effective the Georgian security system is in dealing with these threats. This issue is especially notable, if we take into account the fact that even countries, which are much stronger and more developed than Georgia find it difficult to deal with the dangers coming from Russia.
Dangers Coming from the Russian Federation
As already pointed out above, the main goal of Russia, is to return to the world stage as a great power. In order to achieve this goal Russia’s neighborhood, which it considers to be the zone of its vital interests, must once again fall under its unquestionable influence.
This approach taken by Russia does not depend on what kind of foreign and security policies its neighbors are exercising. Hence, even during the constructive policies of the Georgian government towards Moscow, the dangers coming from Russia remain strong, as the maximum result of the policies conducted by the Georgian government can be that Russia changes its tactics, whilst its strategic goals will remain the same.
Consequently, all actions taken by Russia towards Georgia must, above all, serve the achievement of its strategic goals.
Russia’s Main Tasks
For additional clarity it would perhaps be better to link Russia’s actions to the main tasks, which it tries to achieve with regard to Georgia in various directions. Additionally, it is also important to specify what Russia’s policy directions with regard to Georgia mean.
Theoretically, the policy of Russia could consist of five main directions, which are:
- Direction of the occupied territories
- Direction of foreign policy
- Direction of domestic policy
- Economic direction
- Military direction
In each of these directions, as already pointed out above, Russia has specific tasks to resolve. Identifying these tasks specifically is quite difficult; however, it is still possible to have a more-or-less correct impression, if we analyze the recent dynamics of Russian-Georgian relations, recent historical experience and the recent actions of Russia in our region and beyond.
Based on the aforementioned factors, the tasks of Russia with regard to Georgia can be formulated in the following way:
- Direction of the occupied territories
Russia’s task is to make the international community get used to the fact that Abkhazia and Tskhinvali region will never return to Georgia; also it needs to create all conditions necessary for merging these regions with the Russian Federation, which would mean their annexation.
- Direction of foreign policy
Russia’s task is to convince the international community that it is not the case that the Georgian population supports their country’s European and Euro-Atlantic integration, but rather that it is a policy imposed by certain politicians over the general public. At the same time Russia needs to attempt to gradually make the Georgian government take Moscow’s interests into account when conducting foreign policy.
- Direction of domestic policy
Russia’s task is to strengthen anti-Western sentiments in Georgia, for which Russian propaganda actively uses common religious and cultural values. At the same time, Russia needs to dismantle the effective functioning of the system of governance and state institutions in Georgia and stir various problems within the country in order to weaken internal political stability.
- Economic direction
Russia’s task is to maximally increase the dependence of Georgia on the Russian market and strengthen the involvement of Russian companies in the key sectors of the Georgian economy (transport, communications, energy). At the same time, Russia needs to manage to involve Georgia in the so-called North-South transport corridor which is strategically important to Russian interests and which would include the restoration of transit through the occupied territories of Georgia.
- Military direction
Russia’s task is to create strong military basements on the occupied territories and the regions neighboring our country, which, in a wider regional dimension, reinforces its military superiority and in a way prevents the deployment of NATO forces in Georgia. At the same time, Russia will attempt to use the strong military positions in the region for pressuring Georgia through the threat of the use of force.
The analysis above, of course does not reflect the full spectrum of the dangers coming from Russia; however, it does create a more-or-less structured impression of Russian policies, tasks and actions with regard to Georgia. Hence, it creates a sort of understanding of what risks all this involves for Georgia.
Georgia’s Security System
In general, the security of a country is a complex concept consisting of numerous components. Talking about the security system, the public often considers the intelligence agencies or the so-called law-enforcement block to be the main components, together with the defense structures. In reality, however, the security system consists of numerous differing components. Even if we take the dangers coming from Russia listed above, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Georgia and the Ministry of Economy and Sustainable Development of Georgia have no lesser role to play in neutralizing them than any others.
In order to deal with the specific challenges in the field of security, the coordinated actions of various structures is absolutely necessary. In addition, when it comes to threats facing the country, it would also be prudent for the state to act not only in the reaction regime, but also in one of prevention. Such actions, on the other hand, should be based upon the deep analysis of the dangers and at least short and medium-term planning of the security policy.
All of the aforementioned is impossible without the cooperation and close coordination between various structures. Hence, a coordinating structure, with clearly defined functions, has a key role to play in the efficient functioning of the security system. These functions, above all, must include the assessment of the threats facing Georgia, inter-agency coordination, planning of policy on the levels of both the experts as well as the leaders of the structures, culminating with the formulation of conceptual documents.
Dealing with the dangers coming from Russia is quite problematic not only for Georgia, but for other, much more powerful and developed states as well. It should also be pointed out that this problem is not only limited to Russia, as Georgia faces a wide spectrum of threats with potential damaging results, varying from regional instability to terrorism.
It is a fact that as a result of the decisions made recently, the need of institution coordinating security policy is disregarded in Georgia. We are talking about the fact that both of the currently existing coordinating bodies, the National Security Council under the President and the State Security and Crisis Management Council under the Prime Minister, are being abolished. Assessment of the relevance of these decisions and the work of the aforementioned structures can be a subject of a separate study. In addition, it is still vague what decision will be made in terms of coordination and security policy planning in Georgia, more specifically, which structure will be tasked with performing these functions.
Only one thing can be stated for sure: Georgia is facing rather serious challenges. In order to deal with these challenges, inter-agency coordination and planning of security policy is an absolutely necessary condition.
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