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Putin and Georgia's rearmament

By Messenger Staff
Wednesday, September 1
During an interview given on August 30, the Russian Prime Minister, Vladimir Putin gave his opinion and expressed his dissatisfaction of the rearming of Georgia by the USA. Georgian analysts reacted immediately stating that Putin is either lying deliberately, or he lacks reliable information. The facts show that the USA is not rearming Georgia at all. However, Putin insists that the major reason for Russian intervention in 2008 was the rearming of Georgia.

By speculating about Georgia’s military expansion Russia wants to kill several birds with one stone. Firstly it continues its propaganda campaign about Georgia’s “aggressiveness”. Moscow wants to leave Georgia virtually unprotected by imposing an embargo on arms sales to the country. And what is most significant, the Kremlin wants to distance and separate Georgia from the USA. As everyone is probably aware, Russia’s policy elsewhere and in the Caucasus in particular is hypocritical. There are several arguments supporting this – Moscow organises genocide of the Chechen people, calling them terrorists, but on the other hand, supports and assists separatism in its neighbour, Georgia. The Kremlin provides huge stocks of arms, ammunition and soldiers in the separatist regions of Georgia – Abkhazia and Tskhinvali, but accuses Georgia of alleged armament. Russia equips its military base in Armenia with modern facilities and maintains its armed forces in Armenia and still accuses Georgia of rearming. Russia introduced offensive S-300 missiles in Abkhazia, Tskhinvali region and Armenia and is prepared to sell them to Azerbaijan. Meanwhile, it still accuses Georgia of rearming. Arrogant cynicism is quite visible. At every possible opportunity Russian officials are unleashing attacks on Georgia, accusing it of every sin in the book and demanding a large scale international embargo on selling arms to Georgia.

With the background of Russia’s policy in this area, USA is cautious and rather controversial. On the one hand US officials state there is no embargo on selling arms to Georgia, but on the other hand Georgia has not received any necessary arms which it might need to protect itself. In response to the question why the USA did not provide arms as requested by Georgia, Philip Gordon said that currently Washington's priority is to ease tension and ensure that Russia fulfills its commitment of the August 12, 2008 Sarkozy-Medvedev agreement. He emphasised that selling arms to Georgia would not help achieve this goal. On the other hand, Senator McCain mentioned the difficulties that exist for providing the Georgian military contingent heading for Afghanistan with the necessary American equipment, armoured vehicles and spare parts. McCain said that Georgia needs long term assistance to facilitate its defence capability to have anti-tank, air defence and efficient radar systems. Of course nobody doubts that Russia will always be far more powerful than Georgia, but the country should not be left unprotected and bare-handed. So this is the current situation: Georgia has a visible shortage of necessary armament, particularly since some of its former partners stopped providing arms and technology to Georgia because of huge pressure from Moscow. Indeed Georgia is virtually unprotected militarily, however Russian Prime Minister Putin still cynically talks of Georgia as a military threat.