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Georgia to be NATO Ammunition Plant

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Message Irakly Dzhaparidze

Georgian Defense Minister Levan Izoria paid a visit to the United States on May 16-22. During his visit, he said that the Georgian army was going to withdraw all Soviet weapons from service and accept NATO weapon standards. He promised to continue the procurement of American weapons and announced a full switch to weapons compatible with NATO.

The reform will be held in accordance with the Georgia-US three-year deal on cooperation with the US in the military sphere, which is planned to be signed in the autumn. However, according to Georgian experts the Ministry of Defense can hardly ditch all Soviet weapons in the near future. They believe that they will manage to pass NATO weapons, but it is very expensive and will take a long time. It means that if Georgia is involved in a military conflict in the near future, it will not be ready to use only American weapons.

Using American and Soviet weapons will create confusion. Experts also suggest that the Georgian Defense Minister mentioned not only the procurement of new American weapon systems, but also the ammunition production of Western standards in Georgia. All this will be done at the expense of Georgia. However, according to experts, the main thing is what tasks the army is going to solve with the weapon.

Georgia has still no identified combat tasks and strategy except participation in the so-called peacekeeping operations abroad, for example, in Afghanistan. It is clear that Russia is the major US competitor in the arms market. That is why the White House puts much pressure on countries that are going to buy or use the Soviet or Russian weapons they have. It means that Washington will lose political influence and profits from contracts for the sale and maintenance of its own military equipment.

While Georgia is strictly prohibited from using Soviet weapons, other European states continue to use them. Kalashnikov machine gun modernized is still popular among the US allies. For example, this machine gun is considered the main for infantry units of the Finnish army. Poland released its own PKM modification, adapted for the NATO ammunition rounds.

It is good that Georgia does not purchase ammunition and weapons from Russia, as Egypt, Turkey or China does. Otherwise, Georgia would be subjected to greater pressure. In the light of the above, it is interesting that the other day the Pentagon unit responsible for purchasing what is necessary for the American army published a request for ammunition for small arms that did not meet the NATO standards. The published list of ammunition for the US Army includes Russian (Soviet) ammunition rounds for TT and PM pistols, Kalashnikov rifles of both calibers, as well as Kalashnikov machine guns of various configurations (PKM, PKT), DShK heavy machine gun, Dragunov sniper rifle SVD.

It is not the first time when the US Army is interested in the Russian and Soviet weapons and ammunition. The White House backs the Libyan government forces and military groups in Syria and Iraq and supplies them with these weapons and ammo. Maybe Georgia should sell all the Soviet ammunition to the US. It will be much easier but Georgia will not do it. Recently the US is considering the cheap production of equivalents of the Soviet weapons and ammunition on its own territory, hoping to reduce multi-million procurement from the former USSR countries and the former Warsaw Pact countries. As usual, Georgia agrees to all, do not defend our interests and do not choose easy ways...

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I am Irakly Dzhaparidze. I am from Georgia, Tbilisi. I am an independent journalist and write about political situation in Georgia and the South Caucasus.
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