NATO Weapons for Georgia
by Knut Mellenthin
According to a report by the Russian newspaper Kommersant on Thursday, a group of NATO experts arrived in Georgia. The group will estimate the military needs of the country after its attack on South Ossetia and war against Russia. The activities of this working group will be kept secret. However, its presence and basic task have been confirmed by a spokesman for the Defense Ministry in Tbilisi, writes Kommersant. The paper quoted the ministry spokesman as saying: "That visit and the negotiations are not for the press."
The newspaper establishes a connection between the visit of the NATO experts and that of a high-level NATO Council delegation to Tbilisi on 15-16 September 2008. The delegation, as Der Spiegel confirmed, will be led by NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer. What should be a routine visit "planned for a long time" according to Der Spiegel, it is also about setting the agenda for the rearmament of Georgia, says Kommersant. The findings of the expert group should serve as basis for decision-making.
The only official acknowledgment in the Pentagon announcements so far came this week: a US "assessment team" is being sent to the Black Sea country, to "help us begin to consider carefully Georgia's legitimate needs and our response." "We must support Georgia. We seek to . . . assist in rebuilding its military," Eric Edelman, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy (the third highest ranking position in the Defense Department), said at a Senate committee hearing on Tuesday. "Georgia, like any sovereign country, should have the ability to defend itself and to deter renewed aggression."
Among other things, the rearmament of Georgia concerns restoring destroyed military infrastructure, like the radar system and the bases in Gori and Senaki. In addition, the Georgian armed forces, given the experiences of the short war in August, will be modernized and strengthened. Among other things they will receive anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons.
Meanwhile, President Mikheil Saakashvili leaves no doubt that he wants to start a war of revenge as soon as possible. This time, he boasts, with the full backing of the NATO and the "international community."
In response, Russia submitted a draft resolution to the UN Security Council to ban arms supplies to Georgia. In his explanation, Russian UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said: "the unrestrained militarization of Georgia in recent years, backed by the United States and certain other countries, certainly contributed to the act of aggression committed by [Georgian President Mikheil] Saakashvili against South Ossetia." The Russian draft prohibits not only weapons deliveries but also "any aid, consultations linked with military activity."
The original article in German was published in junge Welt on 12 September 2008. Translation by Yoshie Furuhashi.