Georgia’s northern neighbour Russia, which occupies 20% of Georgian soil, has declared its irritation by planned US-Georgian military exercises near Tbilisi that are scheduled on 11-26 May.
Russia ‘irritated’ by Georgia-US joint military exercises
By Gvantsa Gabekhadze
Monday, May 9
On May 6, the Information and Press Department of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Russia released a comment on the upcoming U.S-Georgian joint military exercises Noble Partner 2016.
In its comment, the Russian side considered these exercises as “an ongoing exploration of Georgia’s territory by NATO forces” and as “a provocative step, aimed at escalating the military and political situation in the South Caucasus Region”.
The statement also quoted the recent public remarks made on 4 May by the Chairman of the Georgian Parliament David Usupashvili on the mission of Georgia’s Armed Forces and the importance of the assistance rendered by the partners.
It was stated in advance by both Georgia and the US that the exercises at Vaziani near the military base, would involve Georgian, U.S. and UK military personnel and incorporate a full range of military and technical equipment.
“The exercise is focused on enhancing the readiness of a Georgian company-size unit for the NATO Response Force activity as well as reinforcing its interoperability with military units from partner countries,” Georgia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The Ministry continued on to declare that Georgia is an independent and sovereign country, which enjoys the right to hold any type of exercise on its territory.
“Furthermore, it is Georgia’s sovereign right to determine its military partners and its forms of cooperation with them,” the Ministry added.
The Ministry stressed these military exercises are not directed against any party and that similar military exercises were held in Georgia last year.
The Ministry stated that through such exercises, Georgia continues to deepen its cooperation with its partners in the military and educational fields, which remains essential for boosting its defence capabilities.
“Moreover, enhancing the interoperability with NATO and cooperation in the military sphere with the U.S. and other partner states remains Georgia’s longstanding and declared policy,” the Ministry said.
It also said it is the foremost interest of Georgia to preserve stability in the Caucasus region.
“Our position and goal, reaffirmed by us on numerous occasions, is that all conflicts in Georgia and in the region should be resolved through peaceful means,” the Ministry concluded.