Brothers-in-arms no more?10.03.2010 | 22:59
It looks like the epoch of solid friendship between Tbilisi and Kiev is drawing to an end. Ukraine's new president Viktor Yanukovich is expected to change the anti-Russian policies the republic has been pursuing with Yushenko. Ukraine-Georgia cool-down will most severely reflect on defense cooperation between the countries. Media have got hold of the information that the post of Ukrspetsexport CEO in charge of arms supply to Tbilisi can be offered to Valery Konovalyuk, a member of the Party of Regions, one of the toughest critics of military aid to Saakashvili regime.
As we know, Valery Konovalyuk was at the head of Verkhovnaya Rada's commission investigating legality of Ukraine-Georgia military cooperation accusing Viktor Yushenko of illegal sale of arms to Georgia.
The commission found out that Tbilisi's debt for supplied Ukrainian weapons had reached nearly Usd 200 mln with USD 4.5 bln as an actual volume of arms supplies over 4 years. 60 armored vehicles, 40 tanks, 14 rocket launchers and other weapons weretaken off duty in Ukrainian units to be shipped to Georgia. "Today Ukraine is Georgia's main supplier of arms. - Konovalyuk said. - Shipments to Georgia continue due to rearming of the Ukrainian army when practically new equipment is taken off duty and sold for nothing".
It is known that Ukraine sold BUK-M1 missile systems at a reduced price and sent a group of civil specialists to maintain the complexes that in August 2008 were shooting down Russia's combat aircrafts.
As for Ukrspetsexport, until recently the company kept fulfilling Georgian contracts. Besides, last summer Sergey Bondarchuk, the head of Ukrspetsexport said Kiev would continue to arm Tbilisi until UN Security Council comes into play. "We executed and we continue to execute contracts concluded earlier until the UN Security Council decides to ban them", - Bondarchuk noted. - We have ancient well-rooted ties with Georgia".
It seems with Viktor Yanukovich's advent to power in Ukraine the ties between Kiev and Tbilisi won't be that strong any more. The press already reports on possible appointment of Valery Konovalyuk as Ukrspetsexport CEO.
This is what GeorgiaTimes discussed with Russian politologists and military experts referring to prospects of Kiev-Tbilisi military cooperation.
Felix Stanevsky, head of Caucasus department at the Institute of CIS Countries
I do hope that Yanukovich presidency will reflect on Ukraine-Georgia military cooperation. I believe the relations Saakashvili and his friend Yushenko had will be there no more. I am sure the show the Georgians organized at the first round of presidential elections will not be neglected. This could not but affect personal relations between two presidents. I hope that in conditions when Ukraine and Russia will start building constructive relations there will be no arms supplies to Georgia. The supplies played a negative part at the time of 2008 war. Generally speaking Ukraine-Georgia cooperation of this kind could have far-reaching consequences and seriously aggravate Kiev-Moscow relations as well as the situation at the Russian-Georgian border. That is why we can openly hope for Ukraine's more balanced policies toward Georgia now that Russian-Georgian relations are not settled and the Georgian leaders are pursuing an explicitly hostile policy.
Anatoly Tsiganok, head of the Center of Military Forecast at the Institute of Political and Military Analysis
As far as I understand the supplies will be cut. We must clearly admit that Yushenko and Saakashvili are practically a family business. I know it was the US that paid for the equipment shipped to Georgia from Ukraine. The situation has changed and there is no Bush the big friend for Yushenko and Saakashvili. Current president Obama won't pay for these "godfatherly" supplies.
Konstantin Sivkov, First Vice President of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems
We must expect reduction in supplies to preserve a more or less decent image at least. But speaking about Georgia we must realize that the volume of arms supplies to the republic will remain at the same level thanks to other states. Presently Georgia is taking a key position in Caucasus for the United States playing a major role in a potential military conflict in the region. That is why the Georgian army will pursue additional weaponization and growth of military power.