Georgian army prospers at expense of western friends - August, 2008

Georgian army prospers at expense of western friends

August, 2008

Tbilisi has already sent some 20 trucks with soldiers, 3 infantry fighting vehicle, 3 missile launch pads and artillery pieces to South Ossetia.
Georgian army prospers at the expense of western friends, Izvestia daily reports. Most of Georgian officers were trained in the U.S. or Turkey. The country's military expenses increased by 30 times during past four years, making 9-10 per cent of the GDP. The defense budget has reached $1 billion. U.S. military grants to Georgia total $40,6 million. NATO member states, including Turkey and Bulgaria, supplied Georgia with 175 tanks, 126 armored carriers, 67 artillery pieces, 4 warplanes, 12 helicopters, 8 ships and boats. 100 armored carriers, 14 jets (including 4 Mirage 2000) fighters, 15 Black Hawk helicopters and 10 various ships are expected to be conveyed soon.


Fresh Fighting Reported in South Ossetia

'Georgian snipers are attacking us' - Ossetian official:

Authorities in the Georgian separatist region of South Ossetia said Wednesday night that the outskirts of the region's capital were coming under heavy fire from Georgian-controlled territory, Russian news agencies reported. Tensions in the region have soared recently, leading to fears of full-scale war. Georgian and South Ossetian officials were scheduled to meet Thursday to try to find resolution, but South Ossetia's president was quoted by the Interfax and ITAR-Tass agencies as saying the meeting was off. The reports on the shooting cited the defense ministry of the republic's unrecognized government, but gave no further details. Telephone calls to officials in the city, Tskhinvali, did not go through. Interfax also cited officials as saying large-caliber fire was opened in the evening on the village of Avnevi.

Georgia's Minister for Reintegration Temur Yakobashvili, the Georgian government's main envoy on separatist matters, denied that Tskhinvali had come under fire. Earlier Wednesday, Georgian and South Ossetian forces fired on each other in the region of the village of Nuli, and each blamed the other for starting the shooting. South Ossetian forces claimed to have taken control of strategic heights near Nuli that had been under Georgian control. Yakobashvili was to have traveled to Tskhinvali on Thursday for a conflict-resolution meeting. But South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity was quoted by ITAR-Tass as saying late Wednesday that "the proposal for a bilateral meeting is unacceptable since Georgia went into open military aggression against the people of South Ossetia on August 1st." A night of heavy shooting round Tskhinvali on August 1 killed at least six people. Most of South Ossetia, which is roughly 1.5 times the size of Luxembourg, has been under the control of an internationally unrecognized separatist government since the end of a war in the 1990s; Georgian forces hold large swaths of it.

Russia has close ties with the separatist government and with a similar separatist regime in Abkhazia. Russia has granted passports to most of these regions' residents and Tbilisi accuses Russian peacekeeping forces in both regions of supporting the separatists. An outbreak of open war in either region could prompt Russia to send in more forces under the claim of protecting its citizens. Russia sent warplanes to circle over South Ossetia last month while U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was visiting the nearby Georgian capital; Russian officials said the planes were sent up to try to deter alleged Georgian plans to mount on offensive on South Ossetia. Georgian officials have claimed Russia is the instigator of the recent fighting. Relations between Tbilisi and Moscow have long been uneasy, but worsened notably this year amid Georgia's push to join NATO and Russia's dispatch of additional peacekeeper forces to Abkhazia


S.Ossetia says Georgia covering up military losses

Georgian authorities are concealing the deaths of 29 servicemen during recent clashes, a source in the South Ossetian defense ministry said on Monday. The conflict between Georgia and its breakaway republic of South Ossetia intensified on August 1-2 as South Ossetian authorities accused Georgian forces of shelling its capital, Tskhinvali, while Georgia blamed the separatists for provoking armed clashes along the de facto border. "The Georgian side is concealing its casualties," the source said. "According to data provided by Georgian residents... a total of 29 people from the Georgian side were killed [in clashes on August 1-2]. There were no civilians among them - they were all servicemen." Tbilisi has said that at least nine Georgian citizens and one policeman were wounded in a series of border gunfights. South Ossetia says six people were killed and 15 injured in mortar and sniper attacks by Georgian forces on Tskhinvali. Georgia has denied using snipers, and says it only retaliated against South Ossetian rocket propelled grenade attacks. South Ossetia declared its independence from Georgia following the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. Hundreds died in the bloody conflict that followed. Russia has stepped up its support for South Ossetia and Abkhazia, another breakaway Georgian republic, in recent months, angering Georgia's pro-Western leadership, which has pledged to bring the regions back under central control.


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