Moscow-led Kavkaz-2020 drills kicked off on the territories of occupied Abkhazia and Tskhinvali Region/South Ossetia, among others, with the participation of Russian, Abkhaz, and S. Ossetian military personnel, Russian Ministry of Defense reported on September 21.
In Abkhazia, according to the Russian Defense Ministry, more than 1,500 soldiers and about 500 units of different military equipment were involved in the exercises, making 150-km marches to the Tsebelda and Nagvalou ranges.
As for Tskhinvali Region, 1,500 soldiers were alerted and marched with 300 units of military technologies to the “training ground Dzartsemi”, a former ethnic Georgian village rased to the ground after the Russo-Georgian 2008 War.
In both regions, the drills will continue throughout this week with the “tasks of fire destruction of a mock enemy in the mountains and in the area of the sea coast under the cover of army aviation” in Abkhazia and with “special focus” on the preparation of the reserve units for combating mined vehicles in Tskhinvali region.
The Kavkaz-2020 Drills – scheduled through September 26 – is launched by the Southern Military District of the Russian forces and it is expected to involve 80,000 people, including formations and units of combat, logistics, and technical support, as well as air defense, navy, and special forces units. The maneuvers will include, among others, more than 8,000 artillerymen, 3,000 units of MLRS and artillery, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles for reconnaissance and targeting.
Since the 2008 Russo-Georgian War Russia stepped up its military presence in Georgia’s occupied regions, where it now operates two military bases. Both 7th (Abkhazia) and 4th (Tskhinvali) military bases fall under the command of the SMD.
Tbilisi has repeatedly expressed concerns about the Russian-led drills and military presence in the two Moscow-occupied regions.