Saakashvili Seeks to Beef Up Military

TBILISI, Georgia -- Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili has asked the parliament to approve the recruitment of 5,000 new soldiers, a senior lawmaker said Monday, days after an incursion by Russian jets into Georgian airspace.

Parliament will vote Tuesday on the new troops, as well as a 26.8 percent increase in defense spending, said Nika Rurua, deputy chairman of the assembly's Defense and Security Committee.

Rurua said the troop increase was an initiative of Saakashvili's. His supporters have a majority in parliament, and the measures are expected to win approval.

"We do not intend to attack anyone," Rurua said. "The increase in army numbers is a part of our long-term, strategic plan for ensuring security.

"As we see, Russia has recently gone from statements to actions. ... Therefore, we are forced to answer these challenges and be ready for any turn of events."