After initially expressing concern about Washington’s desire to “reset,” relations with Moscow, officials in Georgia are taking a more positive public stance. During the summer, for example, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili lauded the United States for treating Georgia “exactly the right way,” adding that the reset is “not just changing relations with Russia at the expense of the others.”
Privately, however, Georgian officials remain concerned. Some are complaining that the United States, wary of offending Russia, has been blocking sales of defense equipment from US companies to Georgia. And lobbyists for Tbilisi are currently working behind the scenes to urge US officials to approve weapons sales to Georgia.
The United States, while it has conducted several training programs with Georgian troops, has never been a large arms provider to Tbilisi. But what little defense trade did exist has halted since the 2008 war between Georgia and Russia over South Ossetia. [For background see EurasiaNet’s archive].
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Joshua Kucera is a Washington, DC,-based freelance writer who specializes in security issues in Central Asia, the Caucasus and the Middle East.