• The Heritage Network
    • Resize:
    • A
    • A
    • A
  • Donate
  • Georgia's Defense Reforms Are an Example for NATO

    Georgians live in a dangerous neighborhood. This is obvious to anyone looking at a map of the Caucasus.

    Iran is its neighbor to the south. Armenia and Azerbaijan are locked in a frozen conflict over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh province in Azerbaijan. Even though Georgia has good relations with both countries, the instability coming from this conflict could have a spillover affect in the region.

    Of course, Georgia’s northern neighbor Russia is its top foreign policy concern and its biggest security threat. After all, as pointed out on The Foundry yesterday, almost four years after it invaded Georgia in 2008, Russia continues to occupy 20 percent of Georgia’s internationally recognized territory. Further complicating the regional security situation is the Russian troop presence in Armenia on Georgia’s southern border.

    President Mikheil Saakashvili has handled Georgia’s difficult relations with Russia in a responsible, pragmatic manner. For example, knowing the benefits of the global economy, Georgia has also demonstrated a responsible approach with the recent deal clearing the way for Russian membership of the World Trade Organization.

    Even though it is not yet a NATO member, Georgia has recently implemented major defense reforms to ensure it can operate effectively alongside NATO. Georgia will soon publish a comprehensive Strategic Defense Review that will focus on improving the country’s defensive capabilities. Georgia already spends around 4 percent of GDP on defense, a level of investment NATO members would do well to emulate: The NATO average is 1.6 percent.

    While many NATO countries, such as France, are rushing for the door in Afghanistan, Georgia is committing more troops to the mission this year, doubling its contribution in Helmand Province. That will make Georgia the largest per capita troop-contributing nation in the International Security Assistance Force.

    Yet this is not that surprising. In 2008, Georgia was the second largest troop contributor in Iraq, trailing only the U.S.

    When it comes to defense, Georgia is a serious player. So what should the West be doing to encourage Georgia to continue along the track of reform?

    The West should sell high-end defensive anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry to Georgia. So long as the weapons are defensive in nature, there is no reason not to provide them to the Georgian military. The Georgians must have been puzzled when they saw Libyan rebels—many of whom the West knew little about and some of whom have links to al-Qaeda—supplied with the latest anti-tank weaponry. This when the West will not sell the same defensive weapons to Tbilisi.

    NATO should also live up to its promise of eventual Georgian membership. Some European countries are concerned that Georgia’s membership into NATO would trigger a war with Russia over South Ossetia and Abkhazia. However, Georgian officials say that they are happy to accept a NATO membership arrangement or compromise that excludes the two occupied territories from NATO’s Article 5 security guarantee until the matter is resolved peacefully with the Russians. After all, Georgia is not the aggressor in this situation.

    Saakashvili has made a “non-use of force” pledge regarding the occupied territories, which Russia has failed to do. Saakashvili knows that there will not be a military solution to the occupation and is committed to peace in the region. Sadly, it appears that the same cannot be said of Russia.

    Posted in Featured [slideshow_deploy]

    15 Responses to Georgia's Defense Reforms Are an Example for NATO

    1. David says:

      It would be nice if people like you and those who actually knew what the reality was in the region could speak up and state the truth about what's going on in the region: Abkhazia and Ossetia were never Georgian in any way except through force and that is thanks to a Georgian who coveted their lands and had plans for a "Greater Georgia" due to his people not being able to achieve it earlier: Mr. Iosef Djugashvili (or Stalin, as the world knows him). That said, what do you base your information on besides mainstream media which obviously is serving particular entities which seek to surpress the truth regarding these nations? If you took care to do some research, you'd realize that besides this unfortunate time in their history, Abkhazia and Ossetia were never part of any sort of Georgian entity. There was also a period in the medieval ages when the Qartveli (a "Georgian" people, and the dominant ethnic group in Georgia) and Abkhaz created a dual kingdom system, but this failed miserably and both sides withdrew from this agreement. But this was quite some time ago and no one denies this. However, this does not mean that Abkhazia was, again, Georgian land. So, due to this, what other proof do you have to back up your words? Your statistics are also quite confusing in regards to Georgia's eligibility to join NATO. With a malnutrition rate of more than 40%, high unemployment, crime, racism/xenophobia against anyone who is not "Georgian", homophobia, despair, disease, and other chronic social problems, one can easily see that Georgia is not the "shining star" that people like you try so hard to make it out to be. That said, if Georgia was a "serious player" as you indicate in your post, it would actually take the higher road in this particular problem with the nation states of Abkhazia and Ossetia (do you have any idea what happened between these nations before they ceded from Georgian oppression in the 90s? At all? Google Gia Karkarashvili and you may get some idea) it would cut Russia out of the equation and speak to these groups directly, instead of complaining that Russia is "occupying Georgian land". This not only insults the honor and history of these two nations (whose presences are very easily found through history and have never, again, been a part of any sort of Georgian entity willingly) but acts as a detrimental roadblock to peace in the region for all involved. Abkhazia and Ossetia have both repeatedly expressed their desires to end this conflict with the Georgians, and have asked for direct talks with them throughout the years, as well as made other concessions towards them (even though much of this was much more than what the Georgians deserved). That said, it's disheartending and disappointing to see yet another paid lackey promote propaganda and mistruths about this situation when it is quite obvious that you either a) have no knowledge of this region and its problems besides what you've read on the Internet and via very disturbingly unreliable sources, or b) you have an agenda to carry out writing drivel like this and hope to mislead your readers and guide people towards the wrong path in regards to understanding the problems surrounding the South Caucasus and the Caucasus in general. I would try to understand somehow where you're coming from, but from this site itself, it is probably pointless to do so. If you are however interested in the real story behind this problem, I would not check pro-Georgian sources to do so. By the way, just because someone supports the independence of Abkhazia and Ossetia, it does not make them pro-Russian. I say this in advance because this is the easiest and silliest counterargument people who side with Georgians tend to use when addressing this conflict. A child could easily see that Russia is not the issue here: it's Georgia and its neo-nationalist aspirations towards the Caucasus and their willingness to behave like a stringed puppet for these Western institutions that is the problem. Have a nice day.

    2. Anita Draijeer says:

      "Saakashvili has made a “non-use of force” pledge regarding the occupied territories, which Russia has failed to do."

      Gamsakhurdia, Shevardnadze, Saakashvili. All these guys started a war. Non-use of force? Oh dear! You made my day.

    3. Alex says:

      It would be even nicer if Kremlin's and Lubyanka's paid agents did not pour lies and desinformation on the readers of this resource.

      • Where are the lies Alex ? can any one with little common sense deny the invasion of the territory of Abkhazia in 14-Aug-1992 ? or the forcible immigration of the Kartuls to the of the Abkhaz in 1920s by your favorite son Stalin ?0r the clear dissimilarities between the Kartuls and Abkhazians in language,culture,traditions ? or the aim of the destruction of the Abkhaz National Archives in Aug.of 1992?A
        to Anita I say : The most cherished goal of the Kartuls is to wipe out the Apsuas from the of this earth,so yor claims of Non-use of force is nothing but a hot hair, it is a lie.
        The Kartuls are leading the Neo-Nazi movement in the region. They have not forgotten yet the Georgian Vermacht detachments in W W II ,amzing!!

      • David says:

        And I am sure that you are not referring to those individuals who dared to defend Abkhazia and Ossetia. For once, could people like you actually use concrete facts and proof to validate your opinions instead of jumping on the anti-Russian bandwagon? Russia doesn't matter: all that matters is Georgia talking to Abkhazia and Ossetia and not having to hide behind the skirts of the US, EU, and NATO to do so.

    4. In Defense of Abkhazia
      I am ,as a third generation Abkhazian living in diaspora since I was born ,I will state the obvious : Abkhaz nation & the Kartuls ( Aqrts) have only one thing in common; they are neighbors,nothing else.They both have unrelated spoken& written languages,the same thing applies to traditions & customs.
      Georgians had and still have one aim : the destruction of the Abkhaz nation.Their last attempt was in 14.Aug.1992.
      It is perplexing to see certain world governments champion human rights but at the same give weapons of destruction to their allies to wipe out their neighbors ( 14.Aug.1992 Abkhazia / 2008 Ossetia ) It obvious that the Kartuls have a grand design, that is to impose their hegemony over other indigenous people in the region.What is equally astonishing is that while many laws instituted by the most famous criminal of a Kartuli origin ( Stalin )were annulled yet the laws of forcible annexation of Abkhazia in 1931& the forcible immigration of Kartuls to the territory ob Abkhazia in 1920s remain unchanged. Why the Kartuls have the right to disassociate themselves from Russia but the same right is denied when it comes to Abkhazia ?Why the aspirations of the Abkhaz to built an independent nation is less important than that of the Kartuls? Who sets the criterion , war profiteers ?
      Abkhazia is not Georgia.

    5. tom stanford says:

      The writer is no authority on this problem and has no dog in this fight. David may be right but his obsessive hatred of Georgia is getting in his way. Why does he not bother to tell us what it is what the Abkhazians and South Ossetians want – independence (which might end with them being swallowed up by Russia) or autonomy within Georgia?

      • David says:

        It's pretty obvious what these two nation states want: independence from either Russia or Georgia. They align with Russia because that is the only outlet they have at the moment. If Georgia recognized these states as the sovereign entities that they are, they could start to develop normal relations of all kinds with any nation state in the world that they wished. Until then, we are forced to read drivel like this which champions the Georgian cause while ignoring the evils that lurk behind it. What a pity!

    6. Alex says:

      Despite good English you can easily trace GRU Official behind this post, as it is written in the manner of best Russian propaganda intentionally misrepresenting facts to mislead the reader who does not know the whole story.

      But the story is very simple: Russia considers dissolution of soviet empire as a “greatest geopolitical catastrophe of 20th century” (V. Putin). After dissolution of USSR remaining Russian military bases in Georgia became a major source of unrest as they start to instigate and support separatistic sentiments within local population and supply them with manpower, weapons and ammunition.

      It is not a secret that Russian officers planed and led all rebel’s operations the most notorious among them were capture of city of Gagra, Tamish landing which itself was distracting maneuver for the preparation of the assault of Sukhumi, and the siege and capture of Sukhumi. All this acts of brutality preceded by case fire agreements guarantied by Russian Federation.

      On 3 September 1992, a ceasefire was negotiated in Moscow the President of Russia B. Yeltsin persuaded both Shevardnadze and Ardzinba to sign a tripartite agreement calling for an immediate cease-fire under Russian guaranties.

      According to the agreement, Georgian forces were obliged to withdraw from Gagra district. The Georgian side carried out the implementation of the agreement and left its positions. As a result, the local Georgian population of Gagra remained defenseless. The ceasefire was soon violated by the Abkhaz side. Thousands of volunteer paramilitaries, mainly Chechens and Cossacks from the militarized Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus (CMPC) and the Abkhaz military, equipped with T-72 tanks, BM-21 Grad rocket launchers, Sukhoi Su-25 attack planes, and helicopters. Georgia accused Russia of supplying this equipment, as it had not been previously used by the Abkhaz. Abkhaz and CMPC forces attacked the town of Gagra on 1 October. The small Georgian force remaining in the town briefly defended Gagra before retreating, then regrouped and recaptured the town. The Abkhaz and CMPC forces reconsolidated and launched another attack, capturing Gagra on 2 October. The Russian navy began to blockade the seaport near Gagra. The naval vessels: "SKP-Bezukoriznenniy", "KIL-25", "BTH-38", "BM-66", "Golovin", "Landing 345", "Aviation 529" ("SU-25", "SU-27"), "MI- and Anti-Aircraft 643". Regiments were commanded by the first deputy Minister of Defense of the Russian Federation, G. Kolesnikov, took part in the occupation of Gagra. The Russian tanker "Don" delivered 420 tons of fuel to Separatist-held Gudauta. The notorious Sahmil Basaev was commander of leading assault teams.

      Thousands of Georgian soldiers and civilians fled north, entering Russia before being transported to Georgia proper. With the Abkhaz conquest of Gagra, those who remained were forcibly expelled, and a total of 429 were killed. This was a first wave of genocide of Georgians.

      • David says:

        Is that why Gamsakhudria went on national television during the war, waving documents and yelling at the Russians that they had betrayed the Georgians' trust? Not sure who you are trying to mislead here, but it's obvious you have a very disturbed agenda you're trying to push. As far as a genocide against Georgians go, please explain to me how an invasion by the Georgians into Abkhazian land with the intent to commit mass genocide against the Abkhazians (an event which is very well documented, by the way) somehow translated into genocide against Georgians? Your arguments fail. The other major mistake you make here is lumping the Russians and Abkhazians together in this scenario. Those of us who are aware of this situation know fully well that the Russians not only evacuated key Georgian leaders during the height of the war FROM ABKHAZIA, but also equipped them with intel, weapons, and more. The only switched side when the Georgians began to go beserk and it was obvious that even with them paying criminals, drug addicts, and mercenaries to fight with them from all over the region and Europe, that they were losing. Posting Georgian written propaganda serves no purpose here but to degrade yourself and show that you are incompetent at the ability of arguing this topic in a clear, consistent matter. Next time, use your words instead of the Georgian government's?

    7. Alex says:

      Abkhaz offensive on Eshera, Gulripsh, Kamani and Shroma
      The villages along the Gumista river (north and east of Sukhumi) such as Achadara, Kamani and Shroma, which were heavily populated by ethnic Georgians became a strategically important area, which enabled motorized units to reach Sukhumi, the capital of Abkhazia. After a failed attempt to storm Sukhumi from the west, the Abkhaz formations and their allies diverted their offensive on the northern and eastern sides of Sukhumi. On 2 July 1993 under Russian military directives and naval support, the Abkhaz and their (Confederation of Mountain Peoples of the Caucasus) allies attacked the villages on the Gumista river. The Georgian side didn't expect any offensive from the northern or eastern side of Sukhumi district. The Georgian forces suffered heavy losses (as many as 500 dead within an hour of the attack)[17] and the defensive line around Sukhumi was breached by the Abkhaz offensive. On 5 July 1993, Abkhaz, Armenian Bagramyan battalion, Russian and North Caucasian detachments stormed the villages of Akhalsheni, Guma and Shroma of Sukhumi district. The residents from the villages were rounded up and massacred.[citation needed] The last offensive took place on 9 July, on the village of Kamani. Kamani was a Svan (sub-ethnic group of the Georgian people) village, which also included an Orthodox Church (named after St George) and convent. After the fall of the village, most of its inhabitants (including nuns and priests) were killed by Abkhaz formations and their allies (see Kamani massacre).

      Bombing and siege of Sukhumi

      In December 1992, Abkhaz troops began the shelling of Georgian-held Sukhumi. On 4 March 1993, Eduard Shevardnadze, head of the State Council of Georgia, arrived in the capital of the region to take control over the defensive operations in the city. The Minister of Economy, Beslan Kobakhia, arrived in Sukhumi during the negotiations with Goga Khaindrava. According to Kobakhia, separatist leader Ardzinba would resign if Shevardnadze would do the same. He didn't approve of the vandalism in Gagra and noted, that Abkhazia officially never declared his intention to secede from Georgia. As commander-in-chief of Georgian Military Forces, Eduard Shevardnadze issued the order "measures on the defense of Ochamchira and the Sukhumi regions", that stated: "Military formations of different countries are concentrating in Gudauta and Gumista area. We have information, that those forces have the serious goal of seizing Sukhumi and bringing chaos and turmoil to all of Georgia." On 10 February, Shevardnadze appointed Guram Gabiskiria as Mayor of Sukhumi. Meanwhile, the Georgian Parliament made an official declaration blaming Russia for aggression against Georgia and demanding the withdrawal of all Russian military forces from the territory of Abkhazia.

      On 16 March 1993, at 6 and 9 am the Abkhaz and the Confederation forces launched a full-scale attack on Sukhumi resulting in mass destruction and heavy casualties among civilians. At 2 am the Abkhaz side began artillery bombardments of Georgian positions at the Gumista River and Sukhumi. Later in the day several Russian SU-25 planes attacked Sukhumi through the morning of the next day. A Russian special detachment led the operation followed by Abkhaz fighters and CMPC volunteers. They crossed the river Gumista and took part of Achadara, but Georgian forces successfully stopped their advance.

    8. Alex says:

      On 14 May, a short-lived ceasefire was signed. On 2 July, a force of Abkhaz and North Caucasian volunteers landed again with the support of the Russian Navy the village Tamishi, and engaged in a fierce battle with Georgian troops. The battle was one of the bloodiest in the war, with several hundred killed and wounded on both sides. Despite initial setbacks, the Georgian forces managed to retake their positions. In July, Russian detachments, Abkhaz military and CMPC volunteers captured the villages of Akhalsheni, Guma and Shroma of the Sukhumi region. The fiercest struggle was in the village of Kamani, defended by the Georgian National Guard and battalions of armed Georgian volunteers. After several hours of combat, the village fell.
      During the following two days, the Abkhaz engaged in a campaign of systematic torture, rape, and murder against Kamani's civilian population. Nuns at the church and the covenant were raped and killed in front of the Orthodox priest, and the priests were then taken outside, briefly questioned on the ownership of land in Abkhazia, and murdered. Approximately 120 Georgians were killed in the Kamani massacre.

      By this time, Abkhaz separatists occupied almost all the strategic heights and began to besiege Sukhumi. Soon after, the Chairman of the Georgian Council of Defense of Abkhazia Tamaz Nadareishvili resigned due to ill health and was succeeded by Member of the Georgian Parliament Zhiuli Shartava.

    9. Alex says:

      Another Russian-mediated ceasefire was agreed in Sochi on 27 July and lasted until 16 September, when Abkhazian separatists violated the agreement and launched a large-scale offensive against Sukhumi. During the siege, Russian MiG-29's dropped vacuum bombs on Georgian residential districts in Sukhumi and Georgian villages along the Gumista River. Russian journalist Dmitry Kholodov stayed in Sukhumi before it fell, and reported that the city was repeatedly shelled by Russian forces, causing heavy civilian casualties. After a fierce battle, Sukhumi fell on 27 September.

      After the Abkhaz capture of the city one of the largest massacres of the war was committed against the remaining and trapped Georgian civilians in the city.[10] Almost all members of the Georgian-backed Abkhaz government, who refused to leave the city, including Guram Gabiskiria, Raul Eshba and Zhiuli Shartava, were murdered.

      The ethnic cleansing and massacres of Georgians has been officially recognized by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OSCE) conventions in 1994, 1996 and again in 1997 during the Budapest, Istanbul and Lisbon summits and condemned the “perpetrators of war crimes committed during the conflict".[25] On 15 May 2008, the UN General Assembly adopted (by 14 votes to 11, with 105 abstentions) a resolution A/RES/62/249 in which it “Emphasizes the importance of preserving the property rights of refugees and internally displaced persons from Abkhazia, Georgia, including victims of reported “ethnic cleansing”, and calls upon all Member States to deter persons under their jurisdiction from obtaining property within the territory of Abkhazia, Georgia in violation of the rights of returnees”

    10. Alex says:

      Another Russian-mediated ceasefire was agreed in Sochi on 27 July and lasted until 16 September, when Abkhazian separatists violated the agreement and launched a large-scale offensive against Sukhumi. During the siege, Russian MiG-29's dropped vacuum bombs on Georgian residential districts in Sukhumi and Georgian villages along the Gumista River. Russian journalist Dmitry Kholodov stayed in Sukhumi before it fell, and reported that the city was repeatedly shelled by Russian forces, causing heavy civilian casualties. After a fierce battle, Sukhumi fell on 27 September.

    11. Sally says:

      Gia Karkarashvilli: In August 1992, the rising tensions in Abkhazia escalated into armed conflict. Karkarashvili was put in command of the Georgian troops in the regional capital Sukhumi. His televised address broadcast (in Russian) by the local Sukhumi channel on August 25, 1992, in which warned the secessionist leaders that “if 100,000 Georgians die, then all 97,000 [Abkhazians] on your side will be killed” sparked much controversy. His words have been cited in different forms in different sources and received by the Abkhaz side as a threat to cleanse the region of its Abkhaz populace.

      Zviad Gamsakhudria: Georgia for Georgians is a political slogan and ethno-nationalist doctrine attributed to Zviad Gamsakhurdia, the first President of the Republic of Georgia, and his supporters.

      For ethnic Georgians, the doctrine represents their independence, whilst for non-Georgian citizens of Georgia it represents the diminishing of their political and cultural rights within the Georgian state, creating an environment whereby the ethnic minority groups in Georgia are made to feel privileged that they are allowed to live on Georgian territory, and is seen by lev Dzugayev and Liana Kvirchelia as a pretext for ethnic cleansing in regions such as Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and is in part responsible for conflicts which permeate Georgia today.

      Read and learn!

    Comments are subject to approval and moderation. We remind everyone that The Heritage Foundation promotes a civil society where ideas and debate flourish. Please be respectful of each other and the subjects of any criticism. While we may not always agree on policy, we should all agree that being appropriately informed is everyone's intention visiting this site. Profanity, lewdness, personal attacks, and other forms of incivility will not be tolerated. Please keep your thoughts brief and avoid ALL CAPS. While we respect your first amendment rights, we are obligated to our readers to maintain these standards. Thanks for joining the conversation.

    Big Government Is NOT the Answer

    Your tax dollars are being spent on programs that we really don't need.

    I Agree I Disagree ×

    Get Heritage In Your Inbox — FREE!

    Heritage Foundation e-mails keep you updated on the ongoing policy battles in Washington and around the country.