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Thread: How defensible is Georgia against Russian invasion relative to the Baltics?

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    How defensible is Georgia against Russian invasion relative to the Baltics?

    It's a vaguely topical question because of the possibility of Georgia's admission to NATO.

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    Senior Contributor surfgun's Avatar
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    A big stumbling block of course is (regulation of) the Black Sea.

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    Senior Contributor SteveDaPirate's Avatar
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    While neither Georgia nor the Baltics could keep Russian armor out on their own, Georgia is a ton more defensible from a geographic position due to the presence of the Caucasus Mountains along the northern border. They could make crossing those mountains effectively impossible. There is really only one pass through the mountains at Darial Gorge and a tunnel somewhat to the West that could undoubtedly be made to collapse if required. In the Baltics there aren't any difficult terrain obstacles, just open plains perfect for armored divisions to roll across.

    With enough determination, Russia could undoubtedly still get armor into Georgia even if bringing it across the northern border wasn't an option. There's the coastal road along the Black Sea if it hasn't become a NATO fishing pond yet; or there's always the long way around along the Caspian to Baku, then West through Azerbaijan to Tbilisi. This would be a much more difficult operation from a logistical standpoint however, and any pretense at surprise would be out of the question.

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    Military Professional JCT's Avatar
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    Georgia isn't defensible and Russia has some level of forces in the two breakaway Georgian regions. I do not believe Georgia controls their side of the tunnel anymore (could be wrong) which will allow Russia to reinforce almost at will. Russia will not overlook defenses for such a strategic asset and it will not easily be closed. You'd think Georgia would have tried this during the 2008 war. If they truly wanted to, any Russian TACAIR flying over the mountains will easily suppress any Georgian air assets.

    Georgia (and the Ukraine) are firmly in the Russian sphere of influence at this point and only another crumbling of the Russian state will change this. Admitting either to NATO at this point could kick off a war. It might only be the little Green Men again, but Russia will not idly stand by and let NATO any closer.

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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JCT View Post
    Georgia isn't defensible and Russia has some level of forces in the two breakaway Georgian regions. I do not believe Georgia controls their side of the tunnel anymore (could be wrong) which will allow Russia to reinforce almost at will.
    You're right. Georgia didn't even have control of the Roki Tunnel at the beginning of the 2008 war, and furthermore I don't think they've ever exercised control over it since it was constructed in 1984. The Russians were in control of it in 2008, and have been ever since.

    Maps of Russian military bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia (source: Wikipedia)

    Last edited by Ironduke; 09 Aug 18, at 21:30.
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    Military Professional JCT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    You're right. Georgia didn't even have control of the Roki Tunnel at the beginning of the 2008 war, and furthermore I don't think they've ever exercised control over it since it was constructed in 1984. The Russians were in control of it in 2008, and have been ever since.

    Maps of Russian military bases in Abkhazia and South Ossetia (source: Wikipedia)

    Wow, that is not a pretty picture for the Georgians. They're going to be in a tough spot if things get active again.

    I know that we've been working with the Georgians for awhile, anyone have any idea how effective they are? There was a Georgian inf battalion in Helmond Province while I was there, I don't think that they were noted as being particularly active in their zone. They did have the highest per person bottled water consumption, so at least they were well hydrated.

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    Not defensible unless Turkey/Azerbaijan get involved.


    Quote Originally Posted by JCT View Post
    Georgia (and the Ukraine) are firmly in the Russian sphere of influence at this point and only another crumbling of the Russian state will change this.
    Ukraine is a vastly bigger nut to crack than Georgia.
    Last edited by snapper; 13 Aug 18, at 19:00.

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    Military Professional JCT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by snapper View Post
    Ukraine is a vastly bigger nut to crack than Georgia.
    Agreed, however any move to bring the Ukraine into NATO will trigger a response from Russia. What that is depends on how strong she is (90's vs today) and what they think they can achieve and what they think that they can get away with. I personally have no idea, but I'd bet they continue to have agitators working from within the Ukraine (and Georgia) to influence any upcoming elections.

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    Last time I visited Georgia (a personal visit to see friends) was in 2013 so I cannot speak of their ability to defend themselves now. I know the Muscovites keep moving the border another 500m or so further into Georgia (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/w...-a7835756.html nor was this the first time).


    The objectives for attacking both are the same: First to control the gas supply pipelines to Europe (the largest buyer of Muscovite gas) and secondly to stop freedom movements/independence movements starting elsewhere in what remains the Muscovite Empire.

    But there are massive differences; Georgia's population is less than 4m; Ukraine under 45m. Georgia's size 59,425 miČ; Ukraine 233,062 miČ. Occupation of such spaces - should they win a war - is considerably more costly in the case of Ukraine. Then there is suppression of resistance organisations operations after if a war is won; in this case the Georgians have their beautiful mountains to launch attacks from and while we have some mountains in the west we also have remote villages dotted all over.

    Ukraine also has this added advantage; we have been been at war with Moscow for years. Defeated them at times. We know they are the enemy. Yes they have their agitators (and assassins) in Kyiv (the last attempted assassination the SBU managed to foil and the GRU ended in prison) but we know this is an enemy. If they did manage to occupy all Ukraine - which I do not think they will attempt - they could not keep it down. It is a matter of size partly but also a matter of antipathy.

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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mithridates View Post
    It's a vaguely topical question because of the possibility of Georgia's admission to NATO.
    I think it's worth pointing out the 1995 NATO Study on Enlargement:

    6. States which have ethnic disputes or external territorial disputes, including irredentist claims, or internal jurisdictional disputes must settle those disputes by peaceful means in accordance with OSCE principles. Resolution of such disputes would be a factor in determining whether to invite a state to join the Alliance.
    This basically precludes the possibility of Georgia being admitted to NATO.

    Quote Originally Posted by JCT View Post
    I know that we've been working with the Georgians for awhile, anyone have any idea how effective they are?
    Not effective enough to counter the Russians or stand any chance of gaining control over their territory, for the time being. Not unless Russia were to find itself in extreme internal turmoil or distracted by secessionist crises within their own borders.

    If I were the Georgians, and events in the future afforded the opportunity to re-assert control over these two territories, the first order of business would be to destroy the Roki Tunnel, as well as any other infrastructure linking Georgia by land to Russia through the Caucasus Mountains. Perhaps destroy airfields, and render ports in Abkhazia unusable for shipping as well. Deny the Russians the means with which to make air/sea-based landings, and acquire a first-class air defense system.
    Last edited by Ironduke; 15 Aug 18, at 18:16.
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    Military Professional JCT's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ironduke View Post
    If I were the Georgians, and events in the future afforded the opportunity to re-assert control over these two territories, the first order of business would be to destroy the Roki Tunnel, as well as any other infrastructure linking Georgia by land to Russia through the Caucasus Mountains. Perhaps destroy airfields, and render ports in Abkhazia unusable for shipping as well. Deny the Russians the means with which to make air/sea-based landings, and acquire a first-class air defense system.
    Good advice for the Georgians, however, even though they are estranged from Russia at this time, how much Georgian economic activity is reliant upon the tunnel?

    To answer my own question, the tunnel was damaged during the 2008 war and only reopened in November 2014 at a cost of US$400M, paid for by the Russians. According to this article, it is not possible to move from George to South Ossetia, so the tunnel plays no part in the Georgian economy.

    Roki tunnel was badly damaged during the 2008 war between Georgia and Russia, and reconstructing it has cost about USD 400 million so far, while an additional USD 30 million will be required to finalize the work in the parallel maintenance tunnel, which served as the main passage road during the last two and a half years.
    ....
    It is one of only a handful of passages through the main range of the Caucasus mountains, and could thus have connected Russia’s North Caucasus with the South Caucasus republics and further with Turkey and the rest of the Middle East, although it does not play that role today due to the political situation.

    Now Roki serves solely as a connection between South Ossetia and Russia, as it is not possible to travel through South Ossetia to or from Georgia proper.
    So yes, target and destroy at the first outbreak of hostilities. Expect it to be well defended by AAMs.

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    Former Staff Senior Contributor Ironduke's Avatar
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    I was thinking along the lines of using a demolition team on the ground utilizing explosives to cave the tunnel in. The tunnel isn't doing the Georgians any good, they don't control it and never have, and it only serves as a liability as a potential invasion route for Russia to re-occupy South Ossetia in the event Georgia were able to ever re-establish control of the province.

    Russia only comprises 9% of Georgia's exports, and 9.3% of its imports. From what I'm able to gather, Georgia doesn't have much to lose by cutting off/destroying transport links to Russia if they ever found themselves in a position to do so.
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    Not very...

    ...and furthermore why would that be anyone but Georgia's problem? NATO is on the hook for the Baltics; that responsibility can't be avoided. I would argue it was a needless expansion of NATO that only decreased the security for the rest of the members, not increased. Minimally it takes extra resources that would absolutely not be necessary if NATO's border nation were Poland. But it is done deal now. But why should NATO care about Ukraine or Georgia? I'm not at all for Russian expansionism into this region but I for one am not willing to pay any blood or treasure to stop them that close to their border. It is a logistical nightmare. Sometimes you get the bear, sometimes the bear gets it's border states.

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    The enemy of my enemy is my friend and for me personally any who wish to be free of the Chekist Muscovite yoke are my brothers and sisters. We know your enemy, we have killed them and will never stop; nobody is a better ally.

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    Exaggerated Relief Map of the Caucasus and surrounding area

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