U.S. Republican Sen. John McCain has again called on the Obama administration “to resume the sale of defensive arms to Georgia”, saying that Washington should at least provide Tbilisi with early warning radars.
“For two years, mostly out of deference to Russia, defensive arms sales have not been authorized for Georgia. This has to change. At a minimum we should provide Georgia with early warning radars and other basic capabilities to strengthen its defenses,” he told an audience at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies on December 10.
Sen. McCain voiced the similar call in his opinion piece in the Washington Post in August, 2010.
McCain, who in the speech called for “greater sense of realism about Russia”, said that Washington needed to deal with Russia “more as the modest power it is, not the great power it once was.”
“What that means, in part, is being more assertive in the defense of our interests and values,” he continued. “For starters, we need to resume the sale of defensive arms to Georgia.”
“Our allies in central and eastern Europe view Georgia as a test case of whether the United States will stand by them or not. Russia views Georgia as a test case, too – of how much it can get away with in Georgia, and if there then elsewhere. It is the policy of our government to support Georgia’s aspiration to join NATO.
Sen. McCain’s remarks seem to reflect discussions, which apparently are still ongoing in Washington about the scope of military cooperation with Georgia. Earlier this month two classified diplomatic dispatches from series of leaked U.S. embassy cables gave a rare glimpse of such discussions.
According to other leaked cable, sent from U.S. embassy in Tbilisi in November 2009, Georgia’s Foreign Minister, Grigol Vashadze, allegedly termed the country’s problem related to procurement of arms as “silent embargo”.