Israel to sell Georgia only 'defensive' weapons

However, defense officials admit decision to halt sale of pilotless drones to country following Russian complaints.

Georgian soldiers 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Georgian soldiers 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Israel will continue to sell Georgia defensive arms, but not offensive weapons, defense officials said Tuesday amid reports that Israel decided to halt the sale of military equipment to Georgia because of objections from Russia, Georgia's bitter rival. One Israeli diplomatic official said Israel did not need Russia's objections, since its policy is not to sell offensive weapons to areas of confrontation. Defense officials, however, admitted that Israel had decided to halt the sale of pilotless drones to Georgia after Russia had complained. According to UN observers, Russia shot down a drone in May. Defense officials said Russia had a lot of nerve demanding Israel not sell weapons to Georgia, since it arms Israel's worst enemies, including Iran and Syria. The Russians maintain that the weapons they sell to Iran and Syria are of a defensive nature only, and that they would not introduce arms into the area that would tip the regional strategic balance. Diplomatic officials said that while arms sales are under the auspices of the Defense Ministry, the Foreign Ministry must give an opinion on the diplomatic ramifications of the deals. The officials said the Foreign Ministry never gives out wholesale directives regarding one country or the other, but deals with each sale on a case-by-case, weapon-by-weapon basis. AP contributed to this report.