Archive for category Russia
Flightglobal is reporting that Israel is selling Russia technology that will help Russia develop armed drone capacity.
Russia approached Israel to buy drone technology after its brush fire war with Georgia a few years ago. Georgia had been armed with Israeli-made Hermes 450 surveillance drones that outperformed Russian ones. Russia forced Israel to abandon its huge arms sale to Georgia by threatening to arm Israel’s arch enemy Iran. Then the Russians asked Israel to sell them advanced drone technology, which it has done.
One wonders how the US feels about its ally arming a potential adversary like Russia with advanced techology that the US itself feels necessary to keep somewhat under wraps.
News that Israel has sold Azerbajan $1.6 billion in arms probably shouldn’t come as a surprise to any one.
The sale to Azerbaijan would include drones, anti aircraft and missile defence technology. Israel made a string of excuses for arming the small country in a volatile region, but aside from the arms trade profits, Israel was no doubt trying to create another ally for itself on Iran’s border. Israel has already sold drones to Azerbaijan. It isn’t specified what drones the new contract would include, but presumably would include Heron and Searcher drones described in discussions last year.
In September 2011 Armenia is said to have shot down an Azerbaijan drone over disputed Nagorno Karabakh.
Only a few years ago, Israel made huge arms sales to neighbouring Georgia, but sales were cancelled part way along in the wake of a brush fire war between Georgia and Russia, which involved the shooting down of a Georgian drone over Russian territory. It is alleged that Russia made clear to Israel that if it continued to arm Georgia, then Russia would make further deals with Israel’s arch enemy Iran.
Subsequently Israeli and Georgian institutions became involved in litigation, and Israel began selling drone technology to Russia. The story is long and complicated. Ali Abunimah wrote a provocative analysis of the events, at the time.
Allegations emerged recently from documents leaked by Wikileaks that prior to the Georgian conflict, Israel had provided Russia with secret codes for the Georgian drones in return for codes for sold to Iran by Russia.
Israel appears to be trying to gain diplomatic and military advantage by its arms sales in the Caucausus, but the result is the destabilisation of the region. No more so than with the sale of drones which, as a new war technology, are inherently destabilising.
These small drones have extremely good optical abilities and can remain aloft for several minutes. It wasn’t clear from reports whether the drone was being operated by security forces, by the media, or by someone else. Similar kinds of drones are sold and marketed by Aeryon Labs, of Canada.
This occurence is but the beginning of a wave of surveillance by minidrones that do not require licenses to fly in civilan airspace.
The Armenian Weekly recently reported that parts supplied by a Canadian company were found in a drone shot down over Nagorno Karabagh Republic in mid-September, 2011.
The part was a GPS antenna manufactured by Canadian firm Novatel, based in Calgary Alberta, which has offices in Texas. Novatel produces some products specifically directed at the UAV market. It was associated with a GPS splitter provided by GPS Source of Colorado. There isn’t any indication whether the Canadian parts were delivered from Canada or the US.
Drones are highly technological devices often put together from parts from many different firms around the world.
The Armenians and officials of Nagorno Karabagh complained to US officials that use of the parts might violate US arms export laws.
The drone is believed to be one manufactured or delivered as part of an Israel/Azeri joint venture, involving Elbit Systems. It is believed to have been operated by Israelis.
An article in TFMetalsReport.com suggests that the drone was shot down by Russian forces, which wanted to send a message to Israel to stay out of Russian dominated areas or face sanctions.
Clearly there are many companies and countries complicit or directly profiting from arming states which are in a state of conflict with their neighbours.
Prior to 2008, Georgia and Israel had warm relations, said to be strengthened by Jewish Georgian politicians that had strong ties to Israel. Israel made a large arms sale to Georgia, but cancelled much of it when Russia threatened to ship arms to Israel’s mideast enemies. Since the 2008 war between Georgia and Russia, relations between the two countries have continued to sour. Although Georgia is a small country it is strategically important, and what has been happening is an critical part of the geo political manuevering in the region.
This analysis by Michael Hikari Cecire in Eurasia Review covers all the bases.
The intrigue surrounding Georgia-Israel relations just got even more interesting. This is not in reference to the Rony Fuchs trial and conviction or even the recently-leveled allegation by Israeli defense manufacturer Elbit Systems that the Georgian government owes them USD $100 million for unmanned drones it acquired. Rather, the latest news is that Global CST, an Israeli security services firm that once had training contracts with the Georgian military prior to the August 2008 war, looks to be hunting for contracts with the de facto Abkhazian government. (Read the remainder here)
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.