Random Shots- How High Should We Jump?


Less than a month has passed since Turkey shot down the Russian Su-24 and the Russian Foreign Affairs Minister is still in excuse mode. Unlike the Turkish-Russian air gambit, this time the Kremlin has been accused of violating the air borders of two countries. Although neither Finnish nor Georgian governments have ordered the shooting down of Russian helicopters, the fact that the borders of other states are only “conditional’ notions for Kremlin has been proved once again. Unintended mistakes of Russian pilots or the deliberate politics of President Putin? What should the action plan in these sorts of cases be: ‘Turkish’ or ‘Georgian’?

Before answering this question, it should be noted that the violation of airspace controlled by Georgia, by a Russian Mi-8, happened after the Defense Minister of Georgia, Tina Khidasheli, publicly declared that “Georgia’s airspace is more unprotected than that of any other country. This is proved by the events which we have witnessed.” By this comment, of course, Minister Khidasheli meant the anti-air defense complexes document signed with France. Hence, we can conclude that Ms Minister rushed when she commented on the invincibility of French complexes. However, the case is even more complicated than the feasibility of French anti-air complexes. The occupational bases are located in Tskhinvali region, which are served by helicopter. Each of their take offs means violating the air space of Georgia. This isn’t the first case of flying in from the occupation zone. This happens continuously. This time the case was about violating that so-called border which was formed after the war in 2008. As the editor of journal Arsenali, Irakli Aladashvili says, neither the French complexes nor any other zenith facilities can be discussed in this case. “Even if we wanted very much, we can’t do anything about it. If we shoot it down, it is a sad reality that the situation might get even tenser. However, there is another threat – their impudence might go so far that they even fly over Tbilisi. This is already a threat of different level. Therefore, reacting on the diplomatic level is necessary, along with constant protest. When there is no other forces, you are obliged to be satisfied with this. Shooting down one helicopter is possible, but what will follow this is what has to be determined,” claims Aladashvili.

Finland acted like Georgia. Following the Georgian incident, a Russian Mi-8 entered 9 kilometers into Finnish territory, though got away with this also. As Western media notes, the Russian warplanes have violated the air space of Finland numerous times over the last two years, which is what initially triggered the discussion about Finland being admitted to NATO.

Whether Russian aircraft roaming into the territories of other states will become the reason for NATO’s expansion into the East is difficult to imagine. The Russian-Turkish gambit has once again shown that the West still does not know what to do with the Kremlin ‘hooligans’. The signs of this have already been exposed: the French right-wing opposition leader, possible future president, Nikola Sarkozy, declared recently that a new Cold War would be senseless, and so would Russia’s isolation. Upon returning to the ‘Elysee Palace’ he will by all means restore relations with Moscow. Therefore, as one Georgian sports commentator said: “You can jump up and down, but you won’t be able to jump higher than Tkachenko.” Tkachenko was a 2.25 meter-tall USSR basketballer.

Zaza Jgarkava

17 December 2015 20:52