Georgia has long been recognized as a transit point for all sorts of illegal trade between Central Asia, The Middle East, and Europe. It is in the direct interest of Western law enforcement and intelligence services to understand this conduit so that they can anticipate goods movements, which can have a drastic impact on both national communities and foreign civil and military deployments.
On the 5th of February 2024, the Georgian State Security Service, (SSS) has announced that an attempt to smuggle plastic explosives into Russia by the Daryal Pass had been thwarted. The explosives had been concealed in batteries intended for an electric car, and were to be smuggled to Voronezh, a city in Russia, for use in a series of terrorist attacks, which the Ukrainian SVU have a history of carrying out in the Russian Federation, the explosives were found in a vehicle stopped by special services and Border Guards at the customs post in the Daryal Pass.
As part of the investigation, further devices were found stored in Tbilisi, including timers, whether for later shipment to Russia for attacks there, or to be used in terrorist actions in Georgia is not currently clear. The SSS noted that the vehicle that transported the explosives, 14kg of C-4 capable of great destruction even when used in smaller amounts, has been traced back through the Sarpi border crossing with Turkey, the Georgian region of Adjaria, and had transited through Romania and Bulgaria after leaving Ukraine.
Servant of the People or Enemy of the State
The SSS has determined that a Ukrainian citizen of Georgian origin, Andrey Sharashidze, who is a member of Zelensky’s “Servant of the People” party, was directly responsible for the organizing and operation of the operation, monitoring and controlling the operation from Odessa.
In total, 7 Georgians, 3 Ukrainians, and 2 Armenians have been arrested as part of the investigation, though the SSS is of the opinion that few, if any of them, knew about the explosives concealed in the electric car batteries—likely useful idiots.
However, the significance of this event cannot be overestimated. The SSS is convinced that the operation was intended to strike civilian targets in Russia, and to have the blame placed on Georgia, like a false flag, thereby sparking a crisis between the Caucasus state and its northern neighbor, Russia.
Given the dire straits that the Ukrainian regime finds itself, as Russia slowly bleeds the UAF white in the east of the country, any diversion, no matter how disastrous for Georgia, would be welcome.
I suspect that the puppet masters of the Ukrainian government, the bloodthirsty neocons in Washington and Brussels, would also enjoy punishing the Georgian state for its refusal to become involve in their pogrom against Russia, against its own ethnic Russian citizens, with Tbilisi’s steadfast refusal to join economic sanctions or to supply weapons to Ukraine, or become involved militarily.
This incident also has drawn attention to a number of issues that I have previously raised. Georgia has long been a place where a number of ratlines against Russia have been run.
The Langley Virginia farm boys were running weapons through Georgia to Chechnya in the 90s, and even into the 2000s, at first taking advantage of the tottering, failing state that staggered along under former Georgian president Eduard Shevarndandze, then fully supported by their puppet Saakashvili from 2004 to 2012.
The Russian victory in Chechnya, which was achieved both by force of arms and the cooping of former independence fighters, soon caused the focus to change to arming groups that the US felt might be useful in maintaining its influence, or at least giving an excuse for its presence, in Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq, and the wider Middle East.
The Pankisi Gorge was the forward operating base for the Americans in a dirty war against the Russian Federation, weapons paid with the proceeds from a USDA Food for Peace programs, when agricultural goods, mostly vegetable oil sold and the money used to fund Chechen terrorists and to buy weapons from Georgian generals.
The same Virginia farm boys are behind the raising of the Georgian Legion, a force of extreme nationalists and far-right activists currently fighting in Ukraine on behalf of its neo-nazi government, and I wonder if the portion of explosives that was retained in Tbilisi was not intended for the use of returning members of that organization, as investigative journalists, such as Jeffrey Silverman, have predicted.
As one of his sources wrote:
I saw information on the Internet about explosives that Ukrainian’s terrorists tried to transport through Georgia to Russia, but they were stopped at the border with Russia. You must be careful with your predictions, as they come true. I remember your article about this possibility. The Ukrainians were stopped in this case, but who can say how many times before they succeeded.
Silverman shared “that it is highly likely that the same assets were pulling the strings for this operation, as the perpetrators must have believed they had high-level cover, from well-placed people both inside and outside of Georgia.”
Last week I was in Batumi, related to other smuggling operations, looking into US-based Logistics Company, Washington State, Kent and Seattle, USA. Some of the Georgians involved appear to have close connections with the management of these ratlines, including but not limited to some former Georgian and Ukrainian citizens, Emzar Baladze, Marika Davitadze, Mirian Khachidze, &Olga Vakulenko: Ref: US Customs Enforcement Case Number: PX03BR10PX0012.
Many arms shipments to Georgia, especially prior to the 2008-Georgian Russian conflict, were never intended for defensive purposes, and it is apparent that the weapons in the manifests are largely being sold on to terrorists or kept for future regional proxy wars, similar to those we have already seen in Ukraine and Syria.
There continues to be a wide range of activities in Batumi, along the Turkish border and Ukraine, much of it related to plans for offensive operations against Iran, and the pre-deployment (storage) of weapons, mostly covertly, on Georgian territory for this purpose.
The West wants to keep Georgia as an important hub for the supply and support of US forces in the region, with war against Iran in mind, and some of the things that are going on now can passed off as part of genuine military supply operations, making it all the more important to be able to distinguish the genuine from the criminal. But this isn’t done, not because it is difficult, but because it isn’t convenient.
The US runs both the legal and illegal arms distribution operations into and through Georgia, and the genuine supply lines are primarily there to cover the illegal ones.
But what does all this mean for Georgia, things have changed?
Quite a few things, in fact; and despite public statements to the opposite, the current Georgian government is, at best, rather lukewarm to the idea of joining the European Union, being far more realistic as to the risk/reward ratio, especially as they are fully aware of Georgia’s economic dependence on Russia, which despite all the “pretty words” from Brussels, continues to be a far more reliable economic partner for Georgia than the Europeans.
This is something Georgian Dream, a distinctly populist government, has taken note of. Actions by various EU member states, such as France, targeting Bidzina Ivanishvili, founder of the ruling Georgian Dream party, have only further reinforced the realization that Europe and the US are a threat to Georgian statehood.
Hopefully, Georgia will cease being the crossroads where various manifestations of organised crime and its nexus of not-so-hidden political agendas, both at the national (within Georgia, Ukraine), and international (Syria and the wider region) levels, are the most obvious.
Knowledge of the key links within these networks can provide deeply important information regarding the activities of various groups of interest, including terrorist networks and governments of concern.
Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.