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Georgia attempts to break Russian embargo

By Messenger Staff
Tuesday, April 3
On March 27, Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia Alexander Lukashevich stated that any type of military cooperation between Georgia and the United States could jeopardize the "peaceful" situation in the region. His statement was the Russian response to military cooperation between Georgia and the US, including future American arms sales to Georgia.

After the Russian invasion of Georgia in 2008, Moscow tried its best to prevent Georgia from arming itself, by discouraging other countries from selling weapons to Tbilisi. So in a way, the Russian government attempted to impose an embargo on Georgia. Officially, no country acknowledged this embargo, however some of them refrained from supplying Georgia with arms in the wake of the August war. The Georgian army is mainly equipped with Soviet/Russian-made weapons, although Russia has not provided arms to Georgia in some time, and the intermediary companies which were enabling the exchange ceased doing so due to Russian demands. So, for some time Georgia has had real problems in purchasing arms from anywhere. This was especially concerning, since the Georgian government were unable to receive arms from one of its strategic partners, the United States, when it desperately needed weaponry, such as anti-tank and anti-aircraft devices. Although the US Congress has allowed arms sales to Georgia to resume, so far little official information has been released. Instead, the US is doing its best to secure Georgia’s safety politically. Georgia is compensating by designing and building armed vehicles like the Didgori and Lazika. It also plans to start producing its own planes and firearms. Of course, local production cannot completely satisfy Georgia’s demand, but at least it will give the Georgian armed forces certain relief.

The Russian government's most recent agitation was caused by the fact that, within the context of the ISAF mission, it was decided to supply Georgian regiments in Afghanistan with American-produced firearms and armed vehicles. Lukashevich noted that Kremlin does not want to see the arms used in Afghanistan appearing on Georgian territory. In response to Lukashevich, the Georgian government declared that the details of the strategic partnership between Georgia and the US are none of Russia’s business. It would be better if Russia took care of itself, rather than the relations of two sovereign states, stated Minister for Reintegration Eka Tkeshelashvili. However, the problem still exists that the administration would love to substitute its Russian-made arms with American ones. Some Georgian analysts do not doubt that weapons received by Georgian soldiers in Afghanistan could eventually appear in Georgia. If this takes place, then of course the weapons could be used by the Georgian state independently. The US has yet to address the issue directly, but in his confirmation hearing future Ambassador Richard Norland mentioned that his country has agreed to provide M4 automatic rifles to Georgia.