Russian Deployment of S-300 Missiles Threatens U.S. Interests in the Caucasus
Ariel Cohen /
On Wednesday, Gen. Alexander Zelin, the commander of the Russian Air Force, announced that Moscow had deployed a state-of-the-art S-300 (SA-20 Favorit) long- range air defense system in Abkhazia, a region of the Republic of Georgia that Russia has occupied since the August 2008 war.
Since then, Russia recognized breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent republics. According to Zelin, the task of the air defense systems is “to prevent violation of Abkhaz and South Ossetian airspace and to destroy any aircraft intruding into their airspace no matter what their purpose might be”.
However, there is much more than the defense of Abkhazia to the Russian deployment. Taken together with the S-300 base in Armenia, it extends the strategic air space over South Caucasus and over parts of the Black Sea, furthering Russian control.
The response from the Obama Administration was faint. P. J. Crowley, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State and State Department spokesman said: “I believe it’s our understanding that Russia has had S-300 missiles in Abkhazia for the past two years.” He later claimed that this is “not necessarily” a new development. This is another example of the Obama Administration’s “don’t let your missiles interfere with my reset policy” approach. (more…)