Defense Minister Talks U.S.-Georgia Partnership, Local Arms Production

Freshly-appointed Defense Minister Juansher Burchuladze talked about the U.S.-Georgian partnership, as well as revitalizing Georgia’s local military production and procuring foreign armaments in the first interview with Georgian media, with Rustavi 2 TV, on March 23, following his appointment in February.

Recalling the March 4 phone conversation with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin, Minister Burchuladze said he told his American colleague that the Defense Ministry will not involve itself with the country’s political crisis. “I underscored that our government will never cross the red lines of democracy,” he added.

Minister Burchuladze said he also pledged the Georgian army to remain in Afghanistan until the NATO-led Resolute Support Mission concludes. “We are ready to fight globally for world peace, anywhere, together with our partners,” he highlighted.

The Georgian Defense Minister said that on its part “the new U.S. administration is ready to do even more for protecting democracy in the region and particularly for our partnership,” citing phone talks, bilateral visits and U.S. Navy port calls in Georgia as examples of such efforts.

“Naturally, both parties agree that aggressive risks from Russia are increasing in the region, and this, in my personal opinion, will encourage the acceleration of our integration in NATO,” he added.

In the interview, the Defense Minister also discussed the continuing efforts to invigorate Georgia’s military production capacities. He said that the Ministry is “working with partners to jointly produce drones and other arms, which will lead to results in the nearest future.” Minister Burchuladze said he paid a visit last month to Poland and Czech Republic for this reason.

He said that the Ministry has also restored one SU-25 jet of the Georgian Air Force and aims to repair one jet per month, continually.

Besides local industry, Minister Burchuladze said the Ministry is working to procure foreign armaments too, including new Javelin missiles from the U.S., which first arrived in Georgia in early 2018, during Levan Izoria’s tenure as the Minister.

Defense Minister Burchuladze also recalled a September 2020 deal with Israeli state defense company Rafael to “completely restore and modernize” Georgia’s air defense systems, a process he says has already begun. “We will receive the products by the end of the year,” he added.

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