|Military exercises, summer, 2005. Photo: Georgian MoD|
The Russian Ministry of Defense posted on its website on May 15 detailed information about armament, it claimed, was transferred to Georgia by its western allies in recent years.
According to the chart on the Russian MoD’s website NATO-member states have so far handed over to Georgia total of 175 battle tanks; 126 armored vehicles; 67 artillery guns; 99 mortars launchers; 6 multiple rocket launchers; 150 anti-tank missile systems; 200 man-portable, shoulder-fired missile systems.
It also said that the United States planned to hand over to Georgia fifteen UH-60 Black Hawk helicopters. Eight of them will be transferred to Georgia in 2010 and remaining eight in 2011, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
The Russian Defense Ministry also said that France planned to transfer to Georgia four Mirage 2000 fighter jets; 48 man-portable surface-to-air missile systems Mistral; 25 ATLAS man-portable missile launchers with missiles of Mistral-2 type; multiple rocket launcher armed with Aster-30 long range anti-aircraft missiles.
The Russian MoD said that among the NATO member states, the United States, Turkey, Bulgaria and the Czech Republic were “most active” in terms of rendering military assistance to Georgia. It also said that Georgia received significant amount of military hardware from Ukraine and “the military-technical cooperation between Israel and Georgia is expanding as well.”
“In the light of Tbilisi’s declared course towards possible resolution of problems in South Ossetia and Abkhazia through use of force, strengthening [Georgia’s] military capabilities serves as destabilizing role in military-political situation in the South Caucasus region,” the Russian MoD said in the statement.
Officials in Tbilisi have downplayed the Russian Ministry of Defense information posted on its website about armament transferred to Georgia by its western allies as “outdated.”
“It seems that that the Russian intelligence does not work efficiently any longer,” Batu Kutelia, the Georgian deputy defense minister, said on May 15. “All those [military] procurements were made by the Georgian Ministry of Defense two years ago. Since then the Georgian armed forces have purchased much more modern weapons and military hardware. This process is still underway. The process of building the Georgian army is underway. Our partners are actively assisting us and this process will continue, until the Georgian army becomes the most modern and well-equipped army in the region.”
Senior lawmaker from the ruling party Givi Targamadze, who chairs the committee for defense and security in the outgoing parliament, suggested that the Russian side could have received information about western military assistance to Georgia from former Defense Ministry official, Iason Chikhladze.
Chikhladze, the former chief of the Defense Ministry’s procurement unit, is wanted for misuse of power and embezzlement. Charges against Chikhladze were brought simultaneously with the launch of criminal proceedings by the Georgian authorities against ex-defense minister, Irakli Okruashvili, whom France has recently granted political asylum.
“Soso Chikhladze, with the nickname Volk [wolf] fled the country via Russia and we expressed our supposition that he, sanctioned by Okruashvili, would have transferred to the Russian side the information of military purchases. Unfortunately, this supposition has been confirmed,” Targamadze said.
Okruashvili said in one of his interviews to the Georgian press that allegations against Chikhladze were totally groundless and that Chikhladze had never fled to Russia.