Russian website accuses Georgia of Israeli tank deal
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Thursday, November 11Russian Military Website, militaryparitet.com, based on information from foreign media sources, has reported on an alleged decision to purchase an ultramodern tank Merkava 4, by Georgian authorities from Israel side, on November 10; however the information has not been confirmed by Georgian government representatives.
“Based on an agreement with the US state administration, Israel will sell tanks to allied nations, of which Georgia is one. Merkava 4 is one of the most powerful tanks of the modern age. However, until now, Israel constructed these tanks only for its own army, “the website reads.
Georgian authorities state that they have no information regarding the issue. As the deputy chair of the Parliament’s Defense and Security Committee, Zaza Gelashvili, stated, “I am not informed on the case.” According to one of the members of the committee, Samson Kutateladze, “in general, the decision of selling military armaments to the allied countries, by the Israel authorities, did happen, however, I have no information, whether Georgia is in this list or not.”
According to on Ossetian Analyst, Iuri Bateev, Israel will not strain its relations with Russia, because of Georgia, “this information is only a provocation of Georgian media and has no chance of becoming reality. Simply, Georgia will not be able to buy that military armament, as one such tank costs nearly USD 20 million. Accordingly, Georgia does not have enough finances for this. At the same time, the main factor, due to which Tbilisi will be unable to make this step, is that Israel would not commit any action, which would spoil its relations with Russia. Israel would not want to lose thousands of Russian tourists, due to whom significant sums go to the Israeli budget. The Saakashvili regime is going on to restore its military potential and carry on revanchist actions towards South Ossetia, however this will be very difficult for Georgia, especially when, step by step, the Georgian Government is losing its authority in the eyes of the foreign community.”
Georgian military analysts are doubtful concerning the issue, “there has not been even one case of a Merkava 4 being sold to any other country outside of Israel. Before August 2008, negotiations among the Georgian and Israeli sides regarding the matter did take place, but without positive agreement. Herewith, the tank's weight is 60 ton and is used in attacks. Georgian military forces have tanks which weigh 40 ton, so, many bridges here would not bear such heavy tanks. It would be better for the Georgian side to think more about defensive armaments,” Irakli Aladashvili, said.
As analyst Irakli Sesiashvili stated, “Israel would not be happy to spoil relations with Russia. If the United States wants to assist Georgia in this direction, the involvement of Israel in the case is not needed. With such an agreement Russian-American, Russian-Israel and Russian-Georgian relations would be strained. As for the cost of the tank, in general it is secret information. As for the abilities, it is one of the best tanks in the world, “Sesiashvili said.
Theoretically, the chance of purchasing the tank, has not been excluded by another analyst , Giorgi Tavdgiridze, “Purchasing the tank, theoretically exists, as Georgia is the strategic partner of the United States and Israel, however, the second question is whether Georgia needs such armament at the present moment. Analysts should discuss, what would be more profitable for the country, modification of old tanks or purchasing new ones?”