Another weapons scandal erupts in Tbilisi. What next?

Weapons scandals are rocking Georgia. Firstly, the President of South Ossetia, Eduard Kokoity, has accused Tbilisi of actively arming. And literally the following day, a former close ally of Saakashvili and now leader of the opposition party "Movement for a Just Georgia", Zurab Nogaideli, accused the president of appropriating funds belonging to the defence ministry.

Weapons scandals are following one after another. One connected with arms supplies by Ukraine to Georgia has not even had time to subside when another one erupted. On 3rd March, the South Ossetian leader Eduard Kokoity remarked in an interview with Rossiiskaya Gazeta that Georgia was actively restoring its military potential following its August fiasco, and that in particular military supplies from Israel have resumed.

Neither Tbilisi nor Moscow has yet responded to this statement. Literally on the eve of the war on 5th August last year, as reported, Israel's Foreign Ministry, acting on an official request from Russia, decided to restrict its exports of military goods to Georgia. And on 21st January this year, Russia's President Dmitry Medvedev issued the decree "On measures to prohibit the supplies of military and dual-purpose goods to Georgia". As Russian analysts believe, this decree was meant primarily as a warning to Eastern and Central European countries, as well as Ukraine. Ruslan Pukhov, the director of the Centre for the Analysis of Strategies and Technologies, expressed this opinion to RIA Novosti. So Kokoity's statement could have provoked a showdown on the international stage.

But it will seemingly not have the resonance it deserves. Because literally the next day, another scandal broke out in Tbilisi which completely overshadowed the comment by Tskhinvali's leader. As the Georgian media are reporting, Zurab Nogaideli declared that "2 billion and several hundred million dollars which had been set aside for purchasing arms were actually appropriated by Saakashvili and his entourage". The leader of the "Movement for a Just Georgia" admitted that he previously considered such suspicions unfounded. However, last August opened his eyes to many things. He equated these actions by Saakashvili with treachery against his homeland, because when weapons were needed, "it turned out that either there weren't any or they were worthless".

As The New York Times wrote at the end of 2008 with reference to a Pentagon report, American military specialists who were working in Tbilisi in October-November 2008 reported that they were concerned by the low combat readiness of the Georgian army.


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