Not well, according to the Heritage Foundation.
On Wednesday, Gen. Alexander Zelin, the commander of the Russian Air Force, announced that Moscow had deployed a state-of-the-art S-300 (SA-20 Favorit) long- range air defense system in Abkhazia, a region of the Republic of Georgia that Russia has occupied since the August 2008 war.
Since then, Russia recognized breakaway Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent republics. According to Zelin, the task of the air defense systems is “to prevent violation of Abkhaz and South Ossetian airspace and to destroy any aircraft intruding into their airspace no matter what their purpose might be”.
However, there is much more than the defense of Abkhazia to the Russian deployment. Taken together with the S-300 base in Armenia, it extends the strategic air space over South Caucasus and over parts of the Black Sea, furthering Russian control.
What does it mean?
Most importantly from the perspective of the United States, Russian actions are aimed at denying the United Space airspace and over-flight options. The surveillance aspect is no less important—depending on the actual deployment of the air defenses: associated radars will be able to picture or “paint” much of western Georgia and the adjoining Black Sea coastline. The ultimate objective for Moscow is to become an uncontested hegemon in the South Caucasus. And of course this has potential implications in case of an Iranian contingency.
The Russians are committed to deployments in the Caucasus that lead to the strategic denial of U.S. power projection in that region. This bears on the U.S.’s future ability to resupply Afghanistan; to use power to disarm a nuclear Iran; to ensure energy supply from the Caspian; and to help pro-Western friends and allies. These are hardly great accomplishments for the Obama “reset” policy”.
So what else is in the news?
And that is why the deployment of these advanced SAMs is devastating to our foreign policy objectives. We’ve become a paper tiger by cutting defense systems, like the F-22, so that we can pay for turtle tunnels to nowhere with “stimulus” money. The first job of the federal government is to protect its citizens, not to study how to reduce drinking among Chinese prostitutes.