Last week, as the state of war was officially declared between Russia and Georgia over the region of South Ossetia, Israel suddenly popped into the picture as a controversial participator. Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin accused the Jewish state of its support for Georgia based on the United States’s driven Cold War philosophy: seeing Russia as the enemy and Georgia as a victim. Israel, however, responded with a claim that above all other implications, it respects Georgia’s territorial rights.
To those who were barely aware of the small Caucasus nation of only 4.7 million until an eruption of the latest events, Israel’s response might seem surprising, but Israeli endorsement of Georgia is an old story. It developed atop strong personal ties dating as far back as early 2000. Since Georgia Defense Minister Davit Kezerashvili received his education in Israel, Georgia’s entire military infrastructure has been built on an Israeli model. Hundreds of retired Israeli top army personnel have been designated to assist with training of the Georgian forces, and more than $500 million worth of Israeli-made military equipment was sold to Georgia over the past few years. (Even though this supply comes after that of the U.S. and France.)
Ha’aretz quoted an Israeli soldier who had recently returned from Georgia, where he partook in the training:
“There was an atmosphere of war about to break out….From my point of view, the battles of the past few days were to be expected.”
His observations proved gruesomely true. Continue reading