Georgia: Armenian Trade Concerns
When Russia destroyed the main railway bridge on the outskirts of Kaspi not only did they completely disrupt communications between West and East Georgia following the occupation of nearby Gori, but they also disrupted Armenia’s main trade route. RFE/RL reports that Yerevan is assisting Tbilisi in repairing the strategic bridge.
Armenia sent repairmen and a convoy of fuel trucks to Georgia following the weekend explosion on a key Georgian railway bridge that severed the two South Caucasus states’ main trade link with the outside world.
The bridge is located near the central Georgian town of Gori that was occupied by Russian troops just days after the conflict over South Ossetia escalated into an all-out war between Russia and Georgia. The Georgian government accused the Russians of blowing it up on Saturday, a charge strongly denied by Moscow.
Repairs on the heavily damaged bridge got underway on Monday. Georgian workers were due to be joined by 12 Armenian construction specialists who left Yerevan on Sunday. Armenia also reportedly sent a trainload of construction materials that will be used for rebuilding the bridge as well as civilian facilities in Gori.
The Georgian railway is the main transport link between Armenia and the Georgian Black Sea ports of Batumi and Poti that process more than 90 percent of freight shipped to and from the landlocked country. Cargo traffic through the ports was seriously complicated by Russian air strikes on civilian and military targets in Georgia that stopped only late last week.
With fuel, wheat and other basic commodities transported to Armenia mainly by rail, the bridge explosion created an even more serious problem for the Yerevan government. There were renewed signs of fuel shortages in the country on Monday. In Yerevan, some gasoline stations again limited their sales to up to 10 liters per car, while others shut down altogether.
Photo: Railway bridge, Kaspi, Republic of Georgia © Onnik Krikorian / Oneworld Multimedia 2008