Leading article: Unwise war games

Related Topics

For Nato to be staging manoeuvres, albeit modest ones, in Georgia sends several messages at once. It tells the Georgian leadership that its desire to join the North Atlantic alliance has not been forgotten, even if its application for the time being has been put on ice.

It warns Russia against even thinking of extending its military power even further into Georgia than it already has, and it says that the southern Caucasus – a potentially important new energy supply route – remains an area of Western interest. Those are not unreasonable messages to want to send.

Whether such exercises are the best use of Nato resources, or even wise, however, is another matter. The alliance's official position, backed by the new US administration, is that the manoeuvres were planned before the short and nasty war between Georgia and Russia last summer and that to have called them off would have sent a particular signal. By which is presumably meant a set of messages that would be the very opposite from the ones it is communicating by leaving the timetable in place.

But the risks of introducing a new military element, however briefly, into so volatile a region became glaringly apparent yesterday when the Tbilisi government announced that it had thwarted an attempted coup and put down a mutiny by a tank battalion outside the capital. Not that there is any clarity so far about what actually happened, at the Mukhrovani base, and why.

Georgian officials linked the reported coup attempt to Russia, and said it was intended to topple President Mikael Saakashvili. That this is the most obvious explanation, though, does not necessarily make it correct. Another version suggested that disaffected elements of the Georgian military – demoralised since the summer defeat – wanted to disrupt the Nato exercises. A third version suspected the Georgian president himself of trying to create an external enemy to deflect the mounting opposition he faces at home.

That all these explanations have elements of plausibility only illustrates how unpredictable a neighbourhood Georgia and its borderlands remain. Both Nato and Russia would be well advised not to fish further in such troubled waters.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Marketing Manager - Leicestershire - £35,000

£30000 - £35000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager (CIM, B2B, MS Offi...

Marketing Executive (B2B and B2C) - Rugby, Warwickshire

£22000 - £25000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly successful organisation wit...

SEN Coordinator + Teacher (SENCO)

£1 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Job Purpose To work closely with the he...

Research Manager - Quantitative/Qualitative

£32000 - £42000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is curr...

Day In a Page

Read Next
Piper Ryan Randall leads a pro-Scottish independence rally in the suburbs of Edinburgh  

i Editor's Letter: Britain survives, but change is afoot

Oliver Duff Oliver Duff
Some believe that David Cameron is to blame for allowing Alex Salmond a referendum  

Scottish referendum: So how about the English now being given a chance to split from England?

Mark Steel
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments
These Iranian-controlled Shia militias used to specialise in killing American soldiers. Now they are fighting Isis, backed up by US airstrikes

Widespread fear of Isis is producing strange bedfellows

Iranian-controlled Shia militias that used to kill American soldiers are now fighting Isis, helped by US airstrikes
Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Topshop goes part Athena poster, part last spring Prada

Shoppers don't come to Topshop for the unique
How to make a Lego masterpiece

How to make a Lego masterpiece

Toy breaks out of the nursery and heads for the gallery
Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Meet the ‘Endies’ – city dwellers who are too poor to have fun

Urbanites are cursed with an acronym pointing to Employed but No Disposable Income or Savings
Paisley’s decision to make peace with IRA enemies might remind the Arabs of Sadat

Ian Paisley’s decision to make peace with his IRA enemies

His Save Ulster from Sodomy campaign would surely have been supported by many a Sunni imam