26 August 2008

Going Back to Sleep

If you thought the crisis in Georgia was over, think again...

US aid warship will defy Russian control of Georgian port of Poti
The US embassy in Tbilisi said Tuesday, Aug. 26, that two warships will deliver aid to Georgia Wednesday through the Black Sea port of Poti, the day after Russian forces announced they would search all incoming cargoes.

The first US aid warship docked at Batumi Saturday, to avoid friction with the Russian naval, infantry and armored forces which control Poti port.

The Black Sea confrontation between Russia and the US-led NATO forces predicted by DEBKAfile last week is building up inexorably to a climax.

In Moscow, DEBKAfile’s military sources report, Capt. Igor Dygalo, deputy commander of the Russian Navy, announced that the Moskva missile cruiser would carry out a naval exercise on the Black Sea.

The Russians are clearly marking out their control of the Black Sea in the face of the USS McFaul guided missile destroyer’s arrival with aid for Georgia. Our sources report that the McFaul carries 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles capable of striking land and sea targets.

Capt. Dygalo said the Moskva would practice its wire-guided weapons, communications and missile guidance systems. The exercise will no doubt interfere with the movements of NATO vessels, as clearly intended.

Russian Dep. chief of staff Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn spoke Monday, Aug. 25, of nine Western vessels in the Black Sea - 2 American, 4 Turkish and the rest Polish and Spanish. He said their presence was not a cause for concern.

However, DEBKAfile’s military sources report that a clash is becoming inevitable, whether among these hostile fleets or over Russian troops’ demand to search the cargoes of the two US warships when they dock at Poti Wednesday: the US Coast Guard cutter Dallas and the command and control USS Mount Whitney . The latter is equipped with facilities for commanding sea, land and air combat operations.

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