A report released by the staff of Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) has sparked controversy from Russia and Georgia. Titled “Striking the Balance: U.S. Policy and Stability in Georgia,” (PDF) the report argues NATO Allies need a coordinated policy toward Georgia, and suggests it should include a resumption of arms sales that halted following the 2008 Georgia-Russia war:
The United States and NATO allies must reconcile a policy that leaves a dedicated NATO partner unable to provide for its basic defense requirements. These efforts will be most effective if they are undertaken on a multilateral basis. The Alliance must come to grips with the reality that Georgia will require coordinated security support from America and European nations for some years to come.
Particularly in the realm of security assistance, such coordination is critical. While Georgia finds itself under a de facto arms embargo, other NATO allies are pursuing record military deals with the Russian Federation. Georgia has become an exceptional contributor to international security through its contributions to missions in Iraq and Afghanistan. A strategy to enable Georgia to similarly provide for its own territorial defense will require close cooperation with NATO allies to preserve stability in the region.
Following the war between Georgia and Russia, both Europe and the United States have largely stopped selling lethal military equipment to Georgia. The United States has nonetheless continued training Georgian forces for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq under a program titled the “International Military Education and Training Program” (IMET), and funding appears to have increased for this training. Relatively speaking, military equipment sales to Georgia were much higher than training funding up to 2008, but have dropped to zero in 2009 (see charts based on data from the Lugar report).
Georgia has embraced the report while Russia and the breakaway territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia argue arms sales to Georgia could lead to another outbreak of violence in the region.Continue reading "Senate Report: NATO Countries Should Resume Arms Sales to Georgia"