July 4, 2009 - 14:40 AMT
Alexander Skakov: Russia doesn't want a new war in Caucasus
The recent hysteria about Kavkaz 2009 exercise was provoked by certain forces, said Alexander Skakov, Head of Department of CIS Studies at the Russian Institute of Strategic Research.

"A number of U.S. neoconservatives like Rumsfeld and McCain are not interested in improvement of Russian-American relations. Any agreement on arms reduction, trust-building measures or joint missile defense shield cuts them like a knife," he told a PanARMENIAN.Net reporter.

"Meanwhile U.S. President Barack Obama made it very clear that he is interested in cooperation with Russia for resolution of Iranian and North Korean issues. Moreover, he is ready to reduce arms and give up the idea of installing missile defense shield in the Czech Republic and Poland. And finally, he doesn't eye Georgia as a priority," Dr. Skakov said.

"Using Georgia in their own interests, neoconservatives are circulating rumors about new hostilities. The exercise held in the territory of South Ossetia and Abkhazia is their only argument. At that, they forget about the maneuvers NATO conducted in Georgia in May-June, when Russia's concerns were not taken into account. Concessions must be mutual," he said, stressing that Kavkaz 2009 is a defense and anti-terrorism exercise. It doesn't envisage intrusion of troops into the territory of a neighbor state.

Dr. Skakov is confident that Russia doesn't want a new war. "Russia has reached its goals in 2008. Responding to Saakashvili's fatuous aggression, Russia recognized independence of Abkhazia and South Ossetia and deployed bases there. Russia proved the feebleness of U.S. policy in the Caucasus. Russia suspended accession of Georgia and Ukraine to NATO," he said.

"It's convenient for Russia to see an inadequate and discredited politician leading an unfriendly country. However, Saakashvili will never start a new war, fearing of Russian military machine," Dr. Skakov said.

He also voiced hope that some progress in the Russian-U.S. relations will be achieved during Obama's visit to Moscow.