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Georgian army by Russian standards2012-11-30 16:13
Having barely taken over the post of Minister of Defense of Georgia Irakli Alasania called his department "nest of corruption". And in late November, Ivanishvili said that Georgian military prosecutors would investigate the case of the mysterious acquisition by the military department of the country of a large number of Kalashnikov assault rifles, which are likely to have been bought through the mafia way. This fact is very strange in the light of the fact that Saakashvili has repeatedly promised to equip the army only with NATO weapons. GTimes correspondent tried to find out why the Georgian army is using Kalashnikovs and RPGs instead of the M-4 carbines.
Experts close to the subject say: the fact that Kalashnikovs remain in Georgian army became clear immediately after the parliamentary election. After the event, the Ministry of Defense of Georgia held a number of operational meetings. During them Georgian security forces have realized they simply had no money for the planned rearmament. It was not clear: either after the election the budget crisis came to Georgia, or during the electoral process too much money was spent. This story will be investigated by the prosecutors. We know exactly: Saakashvili's regime has left the new Georgian government a lot of problems and puzzles. One of them is why in Georgian army, which was to be equipped only with M-16, there remain only Kalashnikovs without clear-cut documentation?
"Under Saakashvili most of firearms in Georgian army were Russian-made weapons", ex-Defense Minister Tengiz Kitovani told GTimes. "There was a very small amount of the U.S. M-4 carbines and M-16 rifles, and after the August 2008 they became Russian trophies. The fact that Saakashvili has equipped Georgian soldiers with NATO uniform does not mean they also got NATO arms. Both at the parades and at shooting ranges, these soldiers were with the Kalashnikovs, sometimes written off. Kalashnikovs came to Georgia in different ways. Some of them have remained in armoury since the conflicts in South Ossetia and Abkhaz war", Kitovani says.
Georgia bought weapons everywhere it could. During the Abkhaz war Georgians got weapons from across the former Soviet Union, including from the Russian officers of the "guard commander". In subsequent years, the export geography moved into the former Warsaw Pact countries, especially in Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic. According to the UN, only in 2011 Bulgaria sold Georgia 1500 Kalashnikovs, 450 machine guns and 600 RPGs "Netto".
Bulgarians have sold Georgians something more interesting than Soviet Kalashnikovs and RPGs. On May 26, 2012, during the parade in Kutaisi, Georgia High Command proudly presented a new type of weapon - self-propelled artillery systems (SAS) Gvozdika. Soviet Gvozdikas got into an ultra-modern Georgia's army also through Bulgaria. In turn, Bulgaria received Soviet SAS from the Czech Republic.
The question "What to do with the weapons" is still relevant for Bulgaria. Famous Bulgarian factory "BETA" until recently produced the SAS and anti-tank missiles, which then were exported around the world, including in Georgia, under Soviet license.
It is worth saying that the Bulgarians did not set exorbitant prices. However, Saakashvili showed the SAS bought from them with a great pride. In fact, until 2012 the Georgians had no SAS, even the Soviets.
During the preliminary investigation of the fraud in the Georgian military procurement there was named another possible exporting country - Ukraine. However, the Ukrainian side says that arms exports to Georgia was very small. Georgian military market is long divided between Kiev's stronger competitors.