Ukraine's new air force chief is on a visit to Tbilisi to learn from his Georgian counterparts' experience fighting with Russia, and to discuss future military cooperation between the two countries.
"The Georgian side will share [with] us [their] experience of 2008," said Major General Sergei Drozdov, appointed last month to head Ukraine's air force, in a statement issued by Georgia's Ministry of Defense. Georgia fought a five-day war with Russia in 2008 over the breakaway territory of South Ossetia. "Unfortunately, we have similar circumstances in the Ukraine. But with joint forces and cooperation we will overcome all obstacles and achieve success." The statement noted that air defense would be one of the priorities.
Not just operational cooperation, but military business ties appeared to be on the agenda. “One of the main goals of the visit of the Ukrainian delegation is to familiarize with the Georgia’s military-industrial complex and potential in order to plan joint projects for the future. This will give us possibility to improve Georgian and Ukrainian Armed Forces and their defence capabilities”, said Major General Vakhtang Kapanadze, Georgia's chief of General Staff, after meeting Drozdov.
Ukraine has supplied Georgia with the bulk of its air defense systems: according to the database of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the only air defense purchases Georgia made from 2000-2014 were from Ukraine, which included Sa-8 ("Osa") and Sa-11 ("Buk") systems.
The air war over South Ossetia was a relative success from the Georgian perspective, but since then Georgia has nevertheless made acquisition of advanced air defense systems a priority. Tbilisi made a big step in that direction in June, buying yet-unspecified systems from France.
Ukraine-Georgia ties have been strained by the face that a remarkable number of Georgians from the previous government have joined Ukraine's government as high-level officials, led by former President Mikheil Saakashvili, now governor of Odessa. Georgia's MoD even went so far as to blame the former government for the death of a Georgian volunteer who died fighting on the Ukrainian side last year, though it later apologized for that statement.