On September 29, 2010 the Georgian Foundation for Strategic and International Studies, together with Georgian Security Analysis Center (GSAC) hosted a public discussion – “S-300 Missiles, Georgia and the Eurasian Heartland.” The chairman of the discussion was Professor Alexander Rondeli, President of GFSIS. The speakers included Shota Utiashvili, Research Director and Spokesman, Ministry of Internal Affaires; Khatuna Mshvidobadze, Senior Associate, Georgian Security Analysis Center, GFSIS and Amb. David J. Smith, Director, Georgian Security Analysis Center, GFSIS.
Ambassador Smith introduced the subject by giving short talk on air defense systems. He said that air defense systems range from very simple ones with optical sites and guns to very sophisticated ones with missiles, advanced radars and active seekers. According to him the S-300 in Abkhazia is probably the S-300PS, however, some analysts believe that it incorporates components of more advanced systems such as the S-300PMU-1. With a range of either 90 or 150 kilometers, from Gali, it could cover either most or the entire Georgian coast.
The speakers also pointed out that the geopolitical purpose of S-300 deployed in Abkhazia is to gain control over the east-west corridor. It must be considered in the context of Russia’s attack and subsequent occupation of Georgian territories. From their positions in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Russian forces could sever the east-west rail, road and pipeline routes. Moreover, capabilities like the S-300 make it less likely for western countries to physically demonstrate their support for Georgia or, in the extreme case, come to Georgia’s aid.
After the presentation, lively discussion was held between the speakers and the audience The audience included representatives from the Government and NGOs, foreign diplomats, foreign experts and students.