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On March 9, GIP in cooperation with the Konrad Adenauer Foundation (KAS), organized a round table discussion: “Can Georgia Defend Itself? Discussion on Georgia’s Military Capabilities Amid Emerging Security Threats”.
Unlike the expectations from many, including the US intelligence, that Kyiv would fall within days after the Russian invasion, Ukrainian soldiers and territorial defense forces offered resistance and managed to withhold the capital. Even in those towns where Russian troops managed to enter, intruders were met with resistance with unarmed civilians from the local population. These developments suggest that if the Kremlin continues its military campaign, it will be long and bloody.
In parallel, both Abkhazia and Tskhinvali regions have put their military in high readiness, causing concern among some people in Tbilisi whether it was a pretext for the repetition of the Ukrainian scenario in Georgia.
The roundtable discussion addressed Georgia’s readiness and capabilities to defend itself in case of the Kremlin’s renewed aggression. Is the society ready to offer resistance similar to Ukraine’s? And most importantly, are the Georgian armed forces prepared for another Russian intrusion? What conclusions have officials in Tbilisi drawn from the 2008 war?
Distinguished speakers weighed in with their insights in the discussion focused on the following questions:
- What has changed since the 2008 war? Is Georgia more resilient today?
- What lessons does the ongoing Russo-Ukrainian war hold for the Georgian policymakers, army, and society?
- What are the risks for Georgia? Is the West ready to stand with Georgia?
The round table discussion was moderated by Ms. Shorena Lortkipanidze, Cofounder at Civil council on defense and security. The panel comprised of four panelists:
- Maj.-Gen.(Ret) Vakhtang Kapanadze, Former Chief of General Staff of the Georgian Armed Forces (GAF);
- Dr. Shalva Dzebisashvili, University of Georgia;
- Prof. David Darchiashvili, Ilia State University;
- Prof. Charles Fairbanks, Ilia State University.
The speakers noted changes in Georgia’s military over the last fourteen years: improved army leadership capacities with NATO’s support and reduced military spending, and institutional challenges. In addition, the panel highlighted the importance of overcoming political polarization and partisanship over defense issues and engagement of wider society groups in strengthening the country’s defense capabilities.