Georgia ‘planning’ revenge for war defeat, says Russia

Russia has accused Georgia of planning revenge against pro-Moscow separatists and warned the US against arms sales to Tbilisi.

Georgia’s US-trained armed forces were routed by Russian troops during a five-day war last August when Tbilisi tried to retake its rebel South Ossetia region by force.

Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said on Monday that the threat from Russia remains high and that Georgia needed stronger armed forces.

“Such comments by Mr Saakashvili … only prove the self-evident – Tbilisi has not learnt the lesson from last year’s events in the Caucasus and probably cherishes plans of revenge,” Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko told reporters.

Russia has repeatedly accused the US and Ukraine of supplying arms to Georgia.

“As for foreign assistance to Tbilisi to restore (Georgia’s) military potential, it cannot be viewed otherwise than as encouragement of the aggressor,” Nesteremko added.

“We expect that the US, Ukraine and other nations considering themselves to be responsible international players will take this into account in their policy,” he said.

Georgia has pledged to rebuild its military, estimating direct damage from the war in terms of destroyed bases and armour at $200mn. The Georgian Defence Ministry says training will focus more on defence than peacekeeping missions.

Visiting Tbilisi this week, US Joint Chiefs of Staff vice-chairman General James Cartwright said Washington remains committed to providing training “and other assistance” to the Georgian military in support of reform efforts.

Moscow’s ties with Washington and Nato plunged to the lowest point since the Cold War after Russia briefly occupied large chunks of Georgian land and promptly recognised South Ossetia and another rebel region, Abkhazia, as independent states.

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