US Support to Georgia in 2008 not a Work of Fiction

Last week, published an article concerning the Georgia-Russia war of 2008, focusing on the aspect of the US assistance offered to Georgia as a strategic partner.

The publication began with the comments of Dmitri Shashkin, ex- Georgian Defense Minister, regarding US aid during the war that the former official published on the seventh anniversary of the book ‘Little War That Shook the World.”

The message of Shashkin received from the White House on August 14, 2008 stated: “The President’s press conference is in 45 min. Gates will lead the operation. 6th fleet is on its way, Herculeses in the air. GEO will be safe.”

That said, in his memoir, Duty, Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates refers to this incident only in passing, writing that the airlifting of 1,800 Georgian Peacekeepers from Iraq to Georgia “began on August 10 and was completed the next day, and on August 13, I directed that the humanitarian assistance begin. There was no interference from the Russians.”

The article on reports that Shashkin claims the reason why “Tbilisi was not taken by storm” was thanks to the “Georgian army, international support and specific steps by the US” which “stopped Russia.”

According to Shashkin, many do not know that Georgia’s peacekeeping brigade returned from Iraq to Tbilisi on American military planes, which, under the circumstances of war, classed as direct military support by the US.

“Many do not know that Russia could not bomb Tbilisi airport because American Hercules planes were on the tarmac,” Shashkin says. ”Many do not know that the flagship of the US Fifth Fleet which entered the Black Sea monitored on its radars the airspace in the Tbilisi-Moscow-Volgograd triangle. Many do not know that the August 14 Hercules flights from Jordan were accompanied by (American) fighters. Many do not know that the statement of the commander of these fights that ‘any activity of Russian planes in the Georgian sky will be considered an attack on the United States of America,’ effectively closed Georgian skies to Russian planes,” he maintains.

Comment by Georgia Today’s Zviad Adzinbaia

Even if the US support to Georgia in 2008 is considered inadequate in the framework of the wider western response to Russia for aggression, the vital issue of Georgia’s sovereignty and the subsequent raising of the country as a successful reformed state in the region was guaranteed by not enabling Putin’s largest military entities to topple the government and enter the capital city of Tbilisi.

Currently, it can be recognized that the US has been the largest superpower Georgia has ever had as a close partner throughout her difficult periods of history. Georgia was often utilized as a venue for clashing empires, including the Ottoman, Persian or Russian. Georgia has historically endured oppression and destruction, from which Russia’s 200-year occupation was the most caustic for the territorially tiny country.

Is the US role unalterable in Georgia’s territorial integrity and sovereignty? Who else can deter Russia from fully occupying Georgia?

Zviad Adzinbaia

10 September 2015 21:12