Elbit Systems has announced that it is suing the government of Georgia for recovery of $100 million unpaid following an arms deal. It is suing in the High Court of Justice in the UK.
Georgia is believed to have purchased about 4o Hermes 450 drones, of which between three and seven were shot down in a conflict with Russia in 2008. These are probably the arms allegedly not paid for by Georgia, although various reporters haven’t been successful in getting Elbit to confirm this.
Relations between Israel and Georgia appear to have deteriorated sharply in recent years. At one point Israel was going to sell Georgia $500 million in arms, but withdrew most of these when Russia threatened to arm Israel’s arch enemy Iran. Then Georgia used its Israeli drones in a war with Russia.
Following the war, impressed with the Israeli drones, Russia started making overtures to Israel to acquire Israeli drone technology.
There were several figures in the Georgian government with strong ties to Israel, but it isn’t clear where they stand with Israel at this point.
Georgia recently convicted an Israeli businessman of bribery and sentenced him to jail and a colleague to a large fine. The businessman claimed that it was a plot to make him cancel his multi million dollar claim against the Georgian government. The conviction, which is not likely to be the final disposition, is the culmination of a long series of charges and countercharges which has wracked relations between Georgia and Israelis, even drawing in Israeli President Shimon Peres, who phoned the Georgian President to ensure that the Israelis were treated well.
There are claims that Russia has pressured Israel not to sell further arms to Georgia, in return for Russia not arming Israel’s key enemies. Apparently this would not preclude Israeli companies from selling small arms to Georgia’s Interior Ministry.