The first panel on the 12th Georgia Defence and Security Conference titled “Nations under Pressure – Deflecting the Threat” was hosted by the Penn Biden Center for Diplomacy and Global Engagement. Senior Director of the center Michael Carpenter moderated the session. As he noted, countries that are under pressure should continue important reforms, including ones in the military field. In this regard, Michael Carpenter emphasized on the reforms for strengthening Georgia’s defensiveness and referred to them as exemplary for other countries.

In his word, the Ministry of Defence of Georgia Levan Izoria, within an updated security approach, divided reforms implemented in the field of defence in two parts – into political and practical directions. “We have an adequate perception of the security environment in the region. We believe we are in the condition of geopolitical competition, as it is noted in the U.S. National Security Strategy, which has the main challenge of maintaining and strengthening the West and the leading role of the United States. We see this competition as the confrontation between the two - democratic and authoritarian systems”. – noted Levan Izoria and underlined the development of comprehensive strategy for these countries in order to overcome existing challenges and threats, which was adequately manifested in the U.S. National Defense Authorization Act, where Georgia  has a special role.

In the words of Minister Izoria, according to the document, the main objective is strengthening territorial defence of the nations at the frontline, which serves to maintaining the rule based western world.

Georgia’s updated security approach is manifested in the Strategic Readiness, which is the way to the self-realization and development and means “More NATO in Georgia” principle.

Minister of Defence named practical reforms that made Georgia as an exemplary country for NATO members and partners. In this regard, Levan Izoria emphasized on spending 2% of GDP on defence and 20% of the defence budget on arms, establishment of long-term procurement strategy, development of counter-mobility, and implementation of Georgia Defence Readiness Program and development of intelligence capabilities. According to his words, major focus is made on territorial defence and the multinational exercises are conducted based on this principle. In addition, Levan Izoria highlighted the development of logistics infrastructure and interoperability with NATO standards and emphasized on conducting pre-deployment exercises in Georgia.

The session was also addressed by the Senior Fellow & Director of the Russia Program at the Center for European Policy Analysis Brian Whitmore, Deputy Chief of Mission at the U.S. Embassy to Georgia Elizabeth Rood and the Ambassador of Ukraine to Georgia Ihor Dolhov.

The Ukrainian Ambassador discussed the regional security challenges and emphasized on Russia’s actions against Georgia and Ukraine, which in his words, is the threat to the European security architecture. In his address, Brian Whitmore drew attention to the hybrid threats. The Deputy Chief of Mission Elizabeth Rood regarded Georgia as a country under pressure and in this regard, brought an example of disinformation about the visit of the United States National Security Advisor John Bolton to Georgia. She named Georgia as the country of strategic interest of the United States and underlined the existing programs of the bilateral cooperation and Georgia’s contribution in strengthening global security.