By Haaretz Service
Jewish Georgian Minister Temur Yakobshvili on Sunday praised the Israel Defense Forces for its role in training Georgian troops and said Israel should be proud of its military might, in an interview with Army Radio.
"Israel should be proud of its military which trained Georgian soldiers," Yakobashvili told Army Radio in Hebrew, referring to a private Israeli group Georgia had hired.
Yakobashvili, Georgia's minister of reintegration, added that this training provided Georgia with the know-how needed to defend itself against Russian forces in the clashes which erupted last last week in the separatist region of South Ossetia.
Yakobashvili said that a small group of Georgian soldiers had able to wipe out an entire Russian military division due to this training.
"We killed 60 Russian soldiers just yesterday," said Yakobashvili. "The Russians have lost more than 50 tanks, and we have shot down 11 of their planes. They have enormous damage in terms of manpower,"
Yakobashvili warned that the Russians would try and open another battlefront in Abkhazia and he denied reports that the Georgian army was retreating. "The Georgian forces are not retreating. We move our military according to security needs."
"There was no attack on the airport in Tbilisi. It was a factory that produces combat airplanes," said Yakobashvili referring to the attacks in the country's capital.
"The whole world is starting to understand that what is happening here will determine the future of this region, the future price of crude oil, the future of central Asia, and the future of NATO," the Georgian minister added.
According to him, "every bomb that falls over our heads is an attack on democracy, on the European Union and on America."
Israel mulls halting arms shipments to Georgia: report
JERUSALEM (AFP) - The Israeli foreign ministry has recommended a complete halt to the sale of arms to Georgia for fear of spurring Russia to increase its support of Syria and Iran, an Israeli newspaper reported Sunday.
The Haaretz newspaper quoted an unnamed senior official as saying that Israel would try to remain neutral as Russia and Georgia drift towards all-out war over the fate of the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.
"Israel needs to be very careful and sensitive these days," the official said. "The Russians are selling many arms to Iran and Syria and there is no need to offer them an excuse to sell even more advanced weapons."
Israel considers Iran its main strategic threat because of that country's accelerating nuclear programme, and has long pushed for stronger international sanctions against Tehran.
Israel, the region's sole if undeclared nuclear power, is especially concerned about the transfer of S-300 anti-aircraft missiles to Iran, which could be used to protect its nuclear installations.
Iran has always insisted its nuclear programme is peaceful.
The decision to halt the sale of all arms to Georgia must now go to the defence ministry, which is expected to make a decision in the coming days, Haaretz said.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Arye Mekel declined to comment on the report, saying only that Israel is "closely following developments in the situation in Georgia, especially regarding the Jewish community there."
He added that "hundreds of Israeli tourists who are visiting Georgia are planning to return today."
Around a year ago Israel decided to limit its aid to Georgia to defensive weaponry and military advisors, and at present its aid stands at 200 million dollars (120 million euros), the newspaper said.
Israel has in the past sold aerial drones, night-vision equipment, and rockets to Georgia, and many retired officers from the Israel's military and internal security services work as military advisors there.
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