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“Reload” with Caucasian accent12.10.2010 | 18:26
US State Secretary Hillary Clinton's latest statements about supporting Georgia were taken by experts differently. Most analysts assert that the promises made by the head of the state department are rather formal and are aimed at calming down Tbilisi in the context of the gradual approach of Moscow and Washington's positions. However, other people regard the words of the state secretary as the possible loosening of the nonofficial embargo on selling weapon to Georgia imposed after the well-known August 2008.
The second version of interpretation naturally seems to be more probable and attractive to the Georgian regime. It's not without reason that the local media are citing expert of the Jamestown Foundation Vladimir Sokor. It was he who supposed that the White House would help Sakartvelo strengthen its own defense capacity.
"American policy considers Georgia's strategic importance in the context of Afghanistan, so the relationship between the two countries may go beyond preparation in the terms of fighting the rebellious and grow into complex defense capacity", - Sokor made a supposition.
This definitely seems to be a reasonable viewpoint. But in my opinion, the new turn of military cooperation between Tbilisi and Washington is confirmed by the recent statement made by US Minister of Defense Alexander Vershbow rather than by the promises of Hillary Clinton who is very far from the army problems.
The point is that last week, official representative of Ministry of Defense made it clear that the American side supports the reforms in the Georgian defense system. "It is the Georgian servicemen's contribution to the peacemaking process in Afghanistan that matters and the experience they get there, - he said. - Georgia and US' cooperation in the defense field is getting stronger each day; we recognize and support Georgia's right to be defense-capable and have a system of defense to ensure its safety".
However, Vershbow's statement is not as unambiguous as Saakashvili and his team would like it to be. On one hand, it is no secret that in these latter days, the White Hose has been more concerned about the elimination of global threats faced by the world security than establishing a small reliable platform in the South Caucasus. In this context, militarization of the unstable regime to spite Moscow will hardly do any good to American-Russian cooperation. On the other hand, United States have been training Georgian army for over ten years, so they are unlikely to give up their plans of working with it.
The prospect of US and Georgia's military cooperation in the context of the latest statements made by the Washington officials was discussed by GeorgiaTimes correspondent with member of Public Council at Ministry of Defense of RF Igor Korotchenko and head of the Center of Military Forecasting at the Institute of Political and Military Analysis Anatoliy Tsiganok.
Korotchenko: United States never refused to provide military help to Georgia; this has originally been the distinct trend of the American foreign policy. That's why it would be naïve of Russia to expect American to change its attitude. Georgia is still within the range of the US' interests and is taking an active part in all the American programs including operations held in Afghanistan and Iraq. That's why US have been supporting and will keep supporting Saakashvili's regime, or any other ruling regime. This is a strategic vector of realizing American foreign policy interests.
Tsiganok: I believe, Mrs. Clinton's opinion does not mean any large-scale supplies of offensive weapons to Georgia. These are mere words. One should clearly understand that Georgia has simply got into the grindstone between Russia and the USA and stays there.
Will Washington activate military cooperation with Tbilisi?
Korotchenko: There is a conclusion that the main efforts should be made not in the field of weapons supply but in the field of preparing Georgian army in terms of strengthening command personnel and the soldiers' morale. The problems of equipment have receded into the background, so long as the results of war 2008 showed that Georgia was better equipped but was still conquered by Russian army because of low morale. That is why, today, American instructors and advisors are trying to make the Georgian army morally resistant in conditions of real military actions. As for arms procurement, it is carried out simultaneously, though is not much advertised. As is known, Georgian contingent is present in Iraq on a permanent basis in rotation performed by American military transport planes. The soldiers get weapons on-site and get back to Georgia with them, I mean, the scheme is rather "grey". In fact, Georgia is being armed, though many figures never get to the media or statistic reports.
Tsiganok: The point is that this cooperation in the military field goes on. As is known, it was NATO specialists who trained Georgia for the war in 2008.
Can we say that US are actually sitting on two chairs at once when they state a "reload" with Russia and keep providing assistance to Georgia?