Military intelligence believes that Georgia might again attack South Ossetia, the pro-Moscow region over which the two countries fought a war last year, a powerful spy chief said Thursday.
Alexander Shlyakhturov, who in April took over command of the military’s Main Intelligence Directorate, or GRU, said the situation was strained and accused NATO countries of continuing to supply arms to Georgia.
“The situation with Georgia remains tense because the current Georgian authorities do not just refuse to recognize the sovereignty of Abkhazia and South Ossetia but are trying in every way to return these countries … to their jurisdiction,” he told Itar-Tass.
“You have to add to this the unpredictability of attempts by the Georgian leadership, headed by [President Mikheil] Saakashvili, which may give in to temptation to use force to tame these obstinate republics like they did last year,” he said.
GRU chiefs rarely speak to the media. Thursday’s interview was given to mark 91 years since the spy service was created in 1918 by revolutionary leader Leon Trotsky.
Shlyakhturov said “new NATO members” in Eastern Europe were supplying small arms and munitions to Georgia, while Israel was providing aerial drones. He said heavy artillery and anti-aircraft systems were being delivered to Georgia from Ukraine. GRU forces fought on the front line of last year’s war against Georgia.
“Georgia is reviving its military potential with the supplies of arms and military equipment from foreign countries,” he said. “They could well start another such adventure.”
Meanwhile, South Ossetian authorities on Thursday said they had detained four armed Georgian teenagers in Tskhinvali for illegally entering the region. Tbilisi demanded their prompt release.