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10 Aug, 2008 12:52

Israel blocks arms sales to Georgia

Israel is to stop selling military equipment to Georgia after a complaint from Moscow. The arms ban includes sales of unmanned spy planes – several of which have been shot down over Abkhazia during recent tensions between Georgia and its breaka

The Ministry of Defence in Israel imposed the weapons embargo after ministers in Jerusalem received complaints from Russia. The ban prohibits the sale of Hermes 450 UAV spy drones, made by Elbit Maarahot Systems Ltd.

The decision to cut the trade is thought to be linked to growing tensions in the Caucasus and Russia’s reaction to flights of unmanned drones over the demilitarized zone between the Georgia and Abkhazia.

Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livny is reported to have reluctantly made the decision to cut arms supplies to Tbilisi after consultations with Russia.

Moscow reminded the Israeli government that it had refrained from selling certain kinds of weapons to states that could threaten Israel. Russia said it had every right to expect Jerusalem to reciprocate the goodwill.

With tension rising in Georgia’s breakaway republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Israel’s leadership has been facing a tricky choice between Russia and Georgia.

Russia’s barely hidden threat had the desired effect and Jerusalem opted for a ban on arms sales to Georgia.

Georgia has become a real goldmine for Israeli arms dealers, who will suffer because of the embargo.

Tbilisi had placed orders with several Israeli military manufacturers. Among the weaponry ordered were 70 million rifle cartridges, Merkava tanks, APCs, helicopters, UAVs, fire control systems and night-vision devices.