Medvedev: Sanctions For Arming Georgia

BLOOMBERG

President Dmitry Medvedev on Monday empowered the government to impose economic sanctions on countries that sell arms to Georgia, with which Russia fought a five-day war in August.

Medvedev ordered the government "immediately to present proposals on applying special economic measures" against foreign countries, companies and individuals shown to have delivered weapons or military technology to Georgia that destabilize the South Caucasus region, according to a decree posted on the Kremlin's web site on Monday.

"Russia wants to put Georgia under an arms embargo, which it has been trying to do for some time," said Koba Liklikadze, a Tbilisi-based military analyst. "But the bottom line is that Russia has no right to tell others not to sell arms to Georgia. And in the middle of a global financial crisis, no country is going to say no to a little extra money in the budget, and the arms trade is usually for this purpose."

The order seemed to be directed primarily against Ukraine, which Russia has accused of delivering arms to Georgia before the war over the separatist region of South Ossetia. It could also apply to the United States, which has provided Georgia with weapons and trained its soldiers.

Georgia's Foreign Ministry dismissed the decree as "absurd," since Russia in December 2007 suspended its participation in the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe and poses a "real military threat to neighboring countries."

Medvedev also barred the government and Russian companies from selling or shipping arms and dual-use technologies to Georgia until Dec. 1, 2011.

Nana Intskirveli, a spokeswoman for the Georgian Defense Ministry, said Georgia does not buy Russian-made arms and has none in its arsenal apart from some Soviet-era ammunition.