Nato's early-warning surveillance system has been plugged into Georgia's air-defence network in the first evidence that the US-led alliance is shoring up the country's shattered military.
Alliance officials said that the arrangement enabled Nato radar specialists to be linked up to the Georgian radar systems. “It means Nato can now see what the Georgians are seeing through their radars, effectively allowing the alliance to monitor what is going on over Georgian airspace without having military assets in place,” one official said.
After the war in Georgia last month and the continuing occupation of parts of the country by Russian troops, the move underlined the intention by Nato to provide assistance to the Georgian military.
A Nato official said that the combined air surveillance arrangement had been negotiated before the crisis in Georgia. The technical switch-on, linking radars in Georgia to Nato, happened this week however.
“The joint system was negotiated under the Partnership for Peace scheme Nato has with Georgia, but clearly we have a new context now,” the official said.
Alliance sources said that proposals were currently under discussion to fly Nato Awacs over the region, although they emphasised that no decision had yet been taken on such a development, which would be viewed as provocative by Moscow.
I'm sure. Linked radars are one thing, but AWACs are military aircraft and having them in or around Georgia would certainly give the Russians the impression that NATO is stepping up a military presence. But linked radar systems alone? Russia can't be happy about that, but radar is purely a defensive and reactive military system, and NATO could only see what Georgian forces are themselves capable of seeing. At least, so it seems from this article.