Georgia-Ukraine: friendship of convenience28.12.2010 | 18:40
Tbilisi declares its readiness to buy Ukrainian weapon despite Moscow's objections. As was stated by Georgian Vice PM Georgi Baramidze, arms trade with Ukraine falls within the sphere of both countries' national interests and has no restrictions. Moreover, the politician offers planes and helicopters produced in the republic to return the favour. GeorgiaTimes correspondent discussed Ukraine's response to Baramidze's offer with the Georgian military expert Gia Melitauri and Deputy Director of Ukrainian branch of the CIS Countries Institute Denis Denisov. "Ukraine has got significant potential in the field of armament and is supplying arms absolutely legitimately, - Baramidze is sure. - Why not supplying arms to Georgia, with which it has got good relationship? Especially that despite Russia's objections, such trade with our country is unrestricted by international law".
legitimately, - Baramidze is sure. - Why not supplying arms to Georgia, with which it has got good relationship? Especially that despite Russia's objections, such trade with our country is unrestricted by international law".
According to the vice prime minister, Tbilisi and Kiev are actively discussing future contracts; however, the Georgian party is going to buy weapon from Ukraine despite the competition on the part of other supplying countries. At the same time, Baramidze made it clear that his country is ready to offer Ukraine helicopters and improved Su-25 planes produced by Tbilisi aircraft repair plant.
The Georgian politician's statement was not anything unexpected. Since the times of Mikheil Saakashvili and Victor Yushchenko' friendship, unlimited consignments of various types of arms were delivered to Sakartvelo from Ukraine. According to the commission on studying the legality of military cooperation between Ukraine and Georgia established after the August 2008 events, over the last four years, there has been supplied weapon to the amount of two and a half billion dollars to Georgia, while Kiev has only got 200 thousand dollars of payment. Besides, according to the commission head Velari Konovaljuk, supplies to Georgia were realized through the rearmament of the Ukrainian army and practically new samples of weapon were sold for nothing. "We are dealing with Yushchenko and Saakashvili's shadow arms business, which damaged Ukraine's state budget immensely", - he underlined.
When Victor Yanukovitch came to power, many political experts and analysts supposed that the great "arms brotherhood" between Kiev and Tbilisi has finally split. The new Ukrainian leader seemed to take up the course of rapprochement with Russia, and it would have been strange to talk about armour trade. However, with time, the contacts between the two diplomats became more often. Moreover, according to the media, Yanokovitch held a non-official meeting with Saakashvili. No one knows what the two leaders agreed about but last week, Secretary of the Georgian Security Council Giorgi Bokeria declared that Sakartvelo is expecting Ukrainian government to enhance its efforts on settling territorial conflicts, including those in the Caucasus, in OSCE in 2013. There is an impression that Kiev is far too often mentioned by Georgian political experts. Is there a reason for that?
Gia Melitauri: Speaking about the possible return of the military cooperation between Ukraine and Georgia to the level of Yushchekno's times, many things will depend on the Georgian army's need of these supplies. As for Yanukovitch's attitude to the problem, one can refer to the speech delivered by the head of the Regions Party, the ruling power in Ukraine. I'd like to remind you that he said it makes no difference to Kiev whom to sell the weapon; the main point is that it should be politically beneficial for the republic. Political readiness is in place but whether it will be transformed into real cooperation is the matter of the future and the influence Russian government may assert over Ukraine.
Denis Denisov: Firstly, Mr. Baramidze's interview made a lot of noise, for it was too much straightforward, especially in respect of relationship with Ukrainian colleagues. As for the military cooperation, I do not think it will be brought to the level of Yushchenko's times. There is an objective reason for that: Russian position is presently very much important for Ukrainian government and Kiev will not mar its relationship with Moscow because of supplying arms to Georgia.
We've been watching Georgian and Ukrainian colleagues contacting on practically all the aspects of late. What do these negotiations imply, to your mind?
Gia Melitauri: There is true interest in their relations. Ukraine needs to develop its economy, and there are plenty of Ukrainian goods in the Georgian market today. Of course, Ukraine is not Georgia's number-one trade partner but it is surely one of its core partners in the entire post-Soviet territory and I see nothing shameful in the arms supply as well.
Denis Denisov: the possibility of Ukraine's becoming a middleman in Russia-Georgia conflict is actively discussed. Considering these relations and the fact that everyone lived in the same country 20 years ago, Ukraine cannot deny contacts with Georgia. There are certain joint economical projects and I believe, the countries will go on cooperating in the economical field. However, it will not be the same way as with the current Ukrainian government's relations with RF. I would characterize the dialogue between Kiev and Tbilisi a friendship of convenience.