Economics
Military

The statement that the west helped us only with "water and diapers” during the 2008 Russian-Georgian war is wrong

12 October, 2015

Dali Kurdadze

Zurab Tsurtsumia

In recent period, the certain individuals or interested groups sow doubts about whether the United States can be considered as a strategic partner of Georgia and can the West protect us from the threats. One of the common messages frequently appealed with this purpose by different groups is expressed in an identical phraseology, which obtained even the face of a message-box; in particular, the focus is made on the allegation that during the 2008 Russian-Georgian war the USA helped Georgia with "water and diapers" only. Below stated actual data clears out the contrary: it was the military and financial support specifically from the West during the war and post war period that allowed Georgia to avoid social and political crisis and preserve its state structure.

Totally Georgia received 4.45 billion US dollars from the western countries and international organizations. This fund was used for both the private (banking sector), as well as the public sector, which included budgetary support, material and financial support for refugees, a number of infrastructure and rehabilitation projects.

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In addition to the above-mentioned facts, the practical and moral imperative for Georgia was the immediate humanitarian and financial aid programs, received by Tbilisi from the West.

US Military and Humanitarian Aid

From the outset, it must be said that the US military soldiers did not fight in the August 2008 war in Georgia and Tbilisi did not receive any western (USA) weapon either. On the other hand, the actions of the US provided Georgia with certain security guarantees. In particular, in the beginning of the Russian invasion, the US 6th fleet deployed in the Mediterranean Sea left for the Black Sea and that was a political and military message to Russia. If Russia would further proceed with occupation of the West Georgia, it had to pursue logistic support from Poti port. Presence of American ships in the territorial waters of Georgia would make logistical problems to the plans of Russia.

Besides the mentioned, after the war the US European Command conducted a comprehensive assessment of Georgia’s Armed Forces and developed the reports in different directions, including the development of critical capacities - armor, air defense. Specifically on the basis of these reports the long-term modernization process of Georgian armed forces was initiated, which continues today.

US Military Aid

It was the US government, which took the steps to help the first.

On August 13, 2008, the US President Bush announcedthat the United States would launch a mission of humanitarian aid for Georgia and use the US air and naval forces. One of the goals of this plan was to keep Tbilisi Airport under permanent control and prevent the Russian military forces from any possibility of bombing or taking over it.

The official announcement was preceded by the first real aid rendered by Americans. In particular, on August 9, Georgia decided to withdraw thousand soldiers from Iraq. This decision was implemented by the US Air Force, who made 8 flights to bring to Georgia more than 800 soldiers and 11 tons of cargo. This operation was completed on September 11. It should be noted that all of the necessary logistical and financial arrangements was undertaken by the international forces command deployed in Iraq. Such action of the USA irritated Russia.

On August 13, the US military aircraft landed at Tbilisi airport. This humanitarian flight had the military designation, because the deployment of the airport with American military equipment meant for the Russian military the withdrawal of this object from the list of their military targets. Humanitarian mission by air was mainly implemented from Germany, from the Ramstain American military base.

In total, the US military air forces made 59 humanitarian flights. They Brought to Georgia 1145 tons of humanitarian aid of 15.4 million USD, including 8 000 beds, 20 000 sleeping bags, a half a million food packets and etc.

The US Navy used to ship humanitarian aid at first Batumi and then Poti ports.

Humanitarian operation was participated by the following ships:

Arleigh Burke class destroyer USS McFaul - the vessel that accommodates 90 items of Tomahawk Tomahawk type multi-functional, strategic and tactical missiles. Range of activity - 1300-2500 km; it enables to install the nuclear warheads on it.

The vessel is also armed with RIM-67 Standard ER (SM-1ER / SM-2ER). It is a type of anti-ship missile ground-to-air. Range - 120-185 km, the flight altitude - 24 km.

Ground-to-ground missile system, which is armed with Harpoon type missiles. Average range - 90-220 km. The maximum rate depends on the carrier modification.

2 units of Mark 32 torpedo.

USS Mount Whitney (LCC / JCC 20) Blue Ridge class ship - the sixth of the US Navy's flagship, equipped with close distance defensive arms. Equipment includes the SH-60/MH-60 Seahawk helicopter.

Hamilton class Coast Guard cutter USCGC Dallas (WHEC-716).

The ships’ weapons range covered the South Caucasus as well as Russia's southern military region and more. Presence of this military in the Black Sea, especially in the ports of Batumi and Poti was an important military and political signal.

Humanitarian aid first phase began on August 24, when Arleigh Burke class ship delivered 80 tons of humanitarian aid in Batumi within the frames of the "Operation Assured Delivery”. On August 27, the US Coast Guard cutter arrived in Batumi with 34 tons of humanitarian aid, on 17 September the same cutter shipped 7 tons of cargo to the port of Poti.

Milk powder, mineral water, blankets, hygiene and baby food was transported by the sea.

Despite the rapid humanitarian assistance, the presence of the US ships and the military in the Black Sea was the issue of the greatest importance for Georgia. At the same time the US State Secretary’s visit even more accentuated the presence of the US in the region. This kind of support and the visit was really the deterrent force that has affected the Russian military’s presence beyond the territories of Abkhazia and South Ossetia. In addition, this form of support was the serious motion for the political and economic stability in the country.

Financial Aid

The US was the first country to render Georgia immediate financial support without any political preconditions. This action was followed by the 750 million USD aid from the International Monetary Fund.

According to the Department of State’s Office of the Coordinator of US Assistance to Europe and Eurasia, during the period of 2000-2010, the largest amount of money was allocated by the US in 2008-2009 to help Georgia. 

The US was the first country to render Georgia immediate financial support without any political preconditions. This action was followed by the 750 million USD aid from the International Monetary Fund.

According to the Department of State’s Office of the Coordinator of US Assistance to Europe and Eurasia, during the period of 2000-2010, the largest amount of money was allocated by the US in 2008-2009 to help Georgia. 

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During the war, already since August 9 the USAID and the US "Foreign Disaster Assistance" Office allocated the initial financial aid of 250, 000 USD. The money was intended for the emergency assistance of up to 10,000 conflict-affected people. By August 20, 2008, according to the USAID, the aid allocated for Georgia by the Agency, the US State and Defense Department amounted 10 733 378 million dollars. 

On 30 September, 2008 the US Congress approved the "Consolidated Security, Disaster Assistance and Continuing Assignments Act," which meant an additional 365 million dollars for humanitarian and economic support and reconstruction and democracy development. In total, the US's financial support amounted 1 billion US dollars.

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The US government has provided Georgian government with vital cash resources in order to neutralize the shock caused by August powerful conflict. The Government of Georgia had the opportunity to provide the pensioners and vulnerable population of the country with the only source of their existence, it managed not to close public schools and maintain government organizations through uninterrupted payment of salaries.