The United States has expressed its readiness to supply Georgia with more anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons worth tens of millions of dollars, a source in the Russian special services has said.
Russian news agency ITAR-TASS quoted the unnamed source as saying that the weapons will be supplied through third-party countries, as is usually practiced by the United States.
“According to the verified data that is in our possession, these promises were made by Deputy Defense Secretary of the United States Mr. Alexander Vershbowand Senator John McCain to the Georgian Minister for Eurointegration Georgy Baramidze during the latter’s visit to Washington in December last year. In reply to the Georgian emissary’s persistent requests for urgent supplies of anti-aircraft and anti-tank weapons “for fighting off the Russian aggression” in connection with the stationing of Russian anti-aircraft complex S-300 in Abkhazia and a battalion of Smerch multiple-launch missile systems in South Ossetia. The American side has pointed that in the light of the productive meeting of the two countries’ presidents in the framework of the NATO summit in Lisbon in November 2010, the United States administration is holding consultation on the subject and the decision will be taken soon,” the source said.
The special services source said that, according to Russian estimates, the weapons to be supplied could be the Patriot anti-missile complexes, the Stinger and Igla-3 shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, as well as the anti-tank missiles Javelin and Hellfire-2.
Russian General Staff confirmed the report on Tuesday and expressed its regret over the news. “It causes regret that the reset in relations with Russia announced by Barak Obama’s administration is not changing the policy of military support offered by Washington to Georgian leadership that started the war in the Caucasus in August 2008, and continues to develop aggressive plans against the independent states of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. Such military nourishing of the irresponsible Georgian authorities could well lead to their new escapades in the region,” a source in the Russian General Staff said.
The news came on the day when Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili left for Washington to participate in a memorial event for American diplomat Richard Holbrooke. Just before leaving, the Georgian President expressed his condolences to the families of three servicemen who were killed in a mortar accident during army exercises not far from the country’s capital Tbilisi.
Supplies of weapons from the United States to Georgia stopped after the 2008 war, but many US politicians have advocated their recommencement, despite Russia’s firm objections.