Georgia planned the military operation against its breakaway republic of South Ossetia a year in advance, a source in one of Russia’s security bodies said Saturday.
The source also told RIA Novosti that the operation was coordinated with NATO’s plans to strengthen its naval presence in the Black Sea.
“The statements of some NATO representatives that the maneuvers of the alliance’s ships in the Black Sea were planned a year ago are evidence that attacks on South Ossetia and Abkhazia were planned earlier, maybe even last year,” the source said.
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A NATO representative earlier said that the three-week deployment – which includes stops at Romanian and Bulgarian ports – was planned at least a year ago, well before the conflict in Georgia.
Already under strain due to NATO’s courting of Ukraine and Georgia, and over U.S. missile defense plans in Eastern Europe, relations between the alliance and Russia have frayed badly since Georgia’s attack on South Ossetia and Russia’s subsequent military operation.
In the opinion of the source, NATO’s buildup of naval force in the Black Sea under the cover of providing humanitarian aid to Georgia, sets a dangerous precedent and may sharply destabilize the situation in the region.
Speaking Friday at RIA Novosti news conference, the deputy chief of the Russian military’s general staff expressed doubts whether it is necessary to have NATO vessels in the Black Sea delivering humanitarian aid to Georgia.
“Now that the conflict [with South Ossetia] is exhausted, there are NATO vessels [in the Black Sea]. What for and with what aim?” Col. Gen. Anatoly Nogovitsyn said.
He also said Russia would reply swiftly to all provocations against its Black Sea Fleet.