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Israeli Military Sales To Georgia Continue
August 12, 2008: Israel considered halting arms sales and services to Georgia, until the war with Russia stops. It’s the Israeli Foreign Ministry that is pushing for the cut-off, in an effort to improve relations with the Russians. Currently, the Israelis are trying to persuade the Russians to cut back on arms sales to Iran and Syria (which buys stuff with Iranian money, as Iran is prohibited by UN sanctions from buying many weapons directly). The Russians need all the sales they can get in order to rebuild their decrepit, Cold War era arms industries. But the Israelis have maintained communications with the Russian government on arms industry issues, and doesn’t want to lose ground.
Georgia is a significant (about $100 million a year), but not major, military sales customer for Israel. Most Israelis want to help the Georgians. There are about 80,000 Georgian Jews, which also registers with the Israeli voter.
However, politics won out over diplomacy, and the government decided to keep shipping. Most of what the Georgians are getting are training and technical services, and low end military equipment. But the diplomats were able to go to the Russians and point out that, as long as the Russian navy controlled Georgia’s coastline, and the Russian air force controlled the skies, no Israeli military goods were getting in. So everyone is satisfied, sort of.
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