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Saakashvili: Only the U.S. Can Provide the Weapons We Need

Georgia's president Mikheil Saakashvili says there is only one source for the kind of heavy weaponry his country needs to defend itself from Russia: the U.S. In an interview with Foreign Policy's Josh Rogin, Saakashvili discussed the question of the U.S. providing weapons to Georgia. He said that the U.S. is not refusing to sell Georgia weapons, which is something some allies of Georgia have claimed:

Saakashvili said he takes the administration at its word that there is no ban on weapons sales to Georgia and that some sales of small arms are "in the pipeline." But he added that Georgia really needs heavier weapons that could be used to defend the country in the case of another conflict with Russia.

"We don't' really need small arms, we have plenty of them and actually there are many alternative sources to shop for them," he said. "What Georgia really needs is something that it cannot get from anywhere else and that's anti-air and anti-tank [weapons] and that's completely obvious ... that's where should be the next stage of the cooperation."

Emphasis added. Now, there are certainly many other places than the U.S. whence Georgia could buy these sorts of weapons. Wikipedia, for example, lists 19 countries that produce anti-tank missiles, including ones like Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Turkey, where these weapons would be much cheaper than U.S. equivalents and which wouldn't have obvious geopolitical problems. There's a similarly extensive list of countries that make anti-aircraft missiles and guns.

Saakashvili's framing of the issue suggests that Georgia is asking the U.S. to give Georgia the weapons, not merely to allow the sale. Not that there's anything wrong with that: heavy American weapons are expensive, Georgia is poor, and the U.S. gives lots more military aid to far more dubious allies than Georgia. But it seems that the Georgian government, and its allies in Washington, are kind of talking around this question.

Saakashvili: Only the U.S. Can Provide the Weapons We Need

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