Last Updated 9/3 3:05 PM EST
In part of what was termed Georgia’s “special relationship” with Israel, UPI Editor at Large Arnaud de Borchgrave reported in a commentary today that a secret agreement between Georgia and Israel had earmarked two military airfields in the south of Georgia for use by Israeli fighter-bombers in a potential pre-emptive strike against Iran.
Israel has been a close ally of the Black Sea republic, and Israeli contractors have provided the Georgian military with considerable amounts of training and armament, much to the chargrin of Russia. Israeli companies have been arming the Georgian military for the past seven years, and ties have been further strengthened by the fact that Georgia’s Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili is a former Israeli. Russian General Anatoly Nogovitsyn said Israel has provided Georgia with “eight types of military vehicles, explosives, landmines and special explosives”.
In perhaps another signal for how key Georgia believes military support from Israel is, while most of the western media was running stories about Georgia being completely overrun by Russia’s invasion earlier this month, Georgia’s Minister of Reintegration was giving an interview to Israel’s Army Radio. In it, he praised Israel’s training of Georgia’s soldiers, and credited it with Georgia’s having inflicted “enormous damage” on Russia’s military.
And while Israeli defense officials publicly announced a halt to military sales to Georgia earlier this month, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili denied that any halt had taken place. He also said “the Israeli weapons have proved very effective,” and credited them with Georgia’s military successes in the brief war with Russia.
Israeli-Russian relations had already been strained amid reports that Russia was planning to sell Iran its most advanced anti-aircraft missile system, which prompted a claim from the Israeli military that they were developing some “electronic warfare” means to neutralize what has become the backbone of Russian air defense. Iran’s Foreign Ministry denied yesterday that they had purchased the system.
Another consequence of Israel’s backing of Georgia came when long-time rival Syria praised Russia’s military operations. This has led to talks of new arms sales to Syria, and a report that Russia will increase its naval presence in Syrian ports. Syria and Israel have been engaged in ongoing indirect peace talks, though those are at present delayed due to the resignation of Israel’s top negotiator.