Rus­sia Should Return U.S. Humvees, Pen­ta­gon Spokesman Says

By John J. Kruzel
Amer­i­can Forces Press Ser­vice

A group of Amer­i­can Humvees seized by Russ­ian forces in Geor­gia this week should be returned imme­di­ate­ly, a Defense Depart­ment offi­cial said today.

“We’ve cer­tain­ly expressed our posi­tion over the fact that these Humvees are U.S. prop­er­ty and should be returned. It’s that sim­ple,” Pen­ta­gon spokesman Bryan Whit­man said.

In the Geor­gian port town of Poti on Aug. 19, Russ­ian forces, which entered Geor­gia Aug. 8, report­ed­ly com­man­deered Amer­i­can Humvees that were await­ing ship­ment back to the Unit­ed States after tak­ing part in ear­li­er U.S.-Georgian mil­i­tary exer­cis­es.

“We don’t have any assur­ance at this point that they’re pre­pared to do the right thing and return them,” Whit­man said of Russia’s forces. He declined to spec­i­fy the exact num­ber of Amer­i­can vehi­cles in Russia’s pos­ses­sion, call­ing it “a hand­ful.”

In Geor­gia mean­while, Russ­ian forces remain in the for­mer Sovi­et repub­lic in defi­ance of pledges by Moscow to draw down troops this week.

“There has not been much evi­dence of any sig­nif­i­cant Russ­ian with­drawals,” Whit­man said, adding that only “min­i­mal move­ments” have occurred to date.

As NATO and inter­na­tion­al com­mu­ni­ty mem­bers ratch­et up pres­sure on Rus­sia to remove its forces, the Unit­ed States has con­tin­ued pro­vid­ing human­i­tar­i­an aid to war-torn Geor­gia.

The U.S. mil­i­tary has com­menced its mar­itime human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance oper­a­tion, Whit­man said. Two Navy ves­sels and a Coast Guard cut­ter could begin pro­vid­ing relief sup­plies and equip­ment in sev­er­al days, he added.

The U.S. gov­ern­ment has spent $10.7 mil­lion in human­i­tar­i­an assis­tance to date, $4.7 mil­lion of which has con­sist­ed of Defense Depart­ment-led air­lifts and emer­gency sup­plies, Whit­man said.

U.S. mil­i­tary C‑130 Her­cules air­craft con­tin­ue deliv­er­ing twice-dai­ly ship­ments, along with a ship­ment a day by a C‑17 Globe­mas­ter III trans­port jet. Geor­gia has received 320 tons of human­i­tar­i­an aid in the deliv­er­ies.

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)