A senior U.S. diplomat has strongly denied any assumption that Washington had arms embargo on Georgia, but also said on June 29 that arms sale was not a solution to Georgia’s problems.
“Let me first clarify that we don’t have an arms embargo on Georgia,” said Philip Gordon, the assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, who briefed reporters in Washington about upcoming trip of the U.S. Secretary State to Eastern Europe.
“We are pursuing security cooperation with Georgia. Georgia is making a very significant contribution in Afghanistan, which we value… and we are helping them with training for that mission.”
“All sovereign, independent countries in Europe and elsewhere have the right to self-defense and to seek the alliances of their choosing without a third party having a veto over it,” he said.
When further pressed on the matter and asked why the U.S. had not fulfilled any of Georgia’s request for arms in last couple of years, Gordon responded, that Washington’s focus after the August war was “reducing tensions” and trying to get Russian to follow its commitments under the August 12, 2008 ceasefire agreement and to respect Georgia’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.
“We don’t think that arms sales and military equipment is the path to the situation in Georgia that we’re trying to get to,” Gordon said.
“We have engaged very closely with our friends in Georgia to develop their democracy and prosperity because we believe that the real long-term situation – solution in Georgia is not going to be a military one based on the sale of this or that military equipment. There’s not a military fix to this problem. It is, through Georgia, becoming a stronger democracy, a more prosperous country, so that the residents of South Ossetia and Abkhazia agree that they should be part of that unified Georgia. That is what our focus has been on. That’s what this trip [by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Georgia on July 5] will focus on,” he said.
On June 28, the Jane’s Defence Weekly (JDW) reported citing Georgian officials, as well as representatives of US and Israeli companies present at Eurosatory defence exhibition in Paris in mid-June, that after the August, 2008 war Georgia was not able to buy defense equipment, on the one hand because of the U.S. policies and on the other hand because of Russia’s pressure.
Citing senior Georgian defense ministry official JDW reported that Georgia was in need of over-the-horizon radars that can give an advance warning of any Russian movement, man-portable anti-tank weapons and more current-day communication systems. “However, none of these systems have been made available for the Georgians to purchase, according to US and NATO personnel based in Tbilisi,” Jane’s Defense Weekly reported.
"No one can understand what the US government's goal is in blocking these sales. Radios and radars are not offensive weapons," JDW reported quoting unnamed Tbilisi-based defence contractor, whose company is involved in training the Georgian military.
In late 2006 Georgia contracted the U.S. defense communications and information technology company, Harris Corp., on supply of communication systems. But as former chief of staff of the armed forces, Zaza Gogava, told in November, 2008 the Georgian parliamentary special commission studying the August war, the Georgian armed forces had problems with communication and blamed not having enough time to train personnel in use of those communication systems.
According to Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, after the August war Georgia purchased 70 Ejder armored wheeled vehicles from Turkey, which were first publicly displayed last September and twelve T-84 battle tanks from Ukraine.