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U.S. Renders Military Assistance to Georgia But Does Not Supply Weapons - Vershbow

The United States is not planning arms deliveries to Georgia in the immediate future but does not rule out such a possibility in the future.

"Nothing is off the table in the longer term. But for the immediate future, the focus will remain on non-lethal-forms of assistance," Alexander Vershbow, former U.S. ambassador to Russia and current Assistant Defense Secretary, said in interview with Interfax.

"We regret that we continue to hear claims from Russia that we are providing weapons or armaments to Georgia, because it is simply not true. There has been no lethal military assistance to Georgia since the August conflict last year. There was 100 million dollars in the Defense Department Budget for military assistance to Georgia that was transferred to the State Department for humanitarian purposes," he said.

"If you go back five years, to when we started defense cooperation with Georgia, even during that period, when we spent over 200 million dollars, we did not supply any attack aircraft, armor, artillery, air-defense systems, or anti-armor weapons. Our focus has been and remains on improving the professional capacity of the Georgian armed forces through training, exercises, helping them with reform and creating a more professional foundation for the Georgian armed forces," Vershbow said.

"That being said, Georgia is a sovereign country and has the right to have the capacity to defend its own borders. Plus we will be helping to train the Georgian battalion that the Georgian Government has offered to deploy with American forces next year in Afghanistan. I regret that there is still a lot of incorrect information circulating in Russia and appreciate this opportunity to set the record straight," he said.

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