Georgia’s Struggle

Georgia has been struggling to find defensive weapons since the 2008 war with Russia, due to the following: Israel is under too much international pressure, and therefore is unable to supply more arms; Ukraine is run by a pro-Russian stooge, Viktor Yanukovych, who has cut off relations with them; France is too busy doing deals with the Russians (selling them four Mistral class vessels), ensuring that the Russkies have an effective amphibious assault force; and the U.S. is holding back from supplying Georgia with defensive weapons, such as surface to air missiles.

Georgia should have the right to defend itself, but the reality is that Putin’s paranoia and ambition to reassert Russia’s “sphere of influence” is making things very, very complicated in the region. The Georgians have continued to make great sacrifices for the West, sending hundreds of troops to Afghanistan, and thousands to Iraq. They deserve to have that sacrifice rewarded.

“During a visit to Paris June 7-8, the Georgian president Mikhail Saakachvili presented several requests for military materiel. Paris is currently negotiating the sale of four Mistral class amphibious assault vessels and is therefore less well disposed to sell arms to Georgia than it was three years ago (see p.5 ). In 2007, France was ready to sell Gowind corvettes to Tbilisi as well as ground-to-air and anti-tank missiles.

Israel, which was Georgia’s principal supplier of arms until the conflict with Russia in 2008, has also stepped back from its former client and prefers dealing with Moscow. Last year, the Israeli defence ministry authorised Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to sell four drones, along with a ground station, to the Russian frontier police for $50 million (IOL 610 ). Moscow is currently negotiating the acquisition of several other drones from IAI. The Kremlin has another efficacious means of bringing pressure to bear on Israel: the sale of the S-300 ground-to-air missile to Iran, a deal that is frozen but that could be reactivated at any moment.

Ukraine, the last country to have sold military materiel to Georgia, has had a pro-Russian president since the election of Viktor Yanukovych in February, and it has since cut off relations with Tbilisi. Last year, Kiev was still in the throes of negotiating the sale of Osa and Buk ground-to-air missiles, Kolchuga-M radar systems and BTR-70DI armoured transport vehicles.”

‘Tbilisi’s arms struggle’,84099135-GRA-HOM

28 June, 2010


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