This is the fourth time the Alliance has held military exercises in the country " />

The Kremlin responds to NATO’s ‘suspicious activity’ in Georgia

This is the fourth time the Alliance has held military exercises in the country

REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

Moscow has responded to NATO’s on-going exercises in Georgia.

“We can’t agree with the Georgian defence ministry’s statement that the goal of these exercises is to ensure stability and security in the Black Sea region,” Maria Zakharova, the spokesperson for the Russian foreign ministry, said at a press conference.

“Stability and security can only be achieved through constructive dialogue, not with helicopters and tanks. The real aim of this training is to increase pressure on Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Russia, which will only serve to escalate the situation.”

The Kremlin is also angry because Armenia and Azerbaijan, too, have been taking part in the exercises.

“It’s a pity that, for some reason, Georgia’s neighbouring countries have ended up involved in this suspicious activity,” Zakharova told journalists.

The Noble Partner 2018 multinational military exercises began at Vaziani, a military base just outside Tbilisi, on 1 August.

REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

REUTERS/David Mdzinarishvili

Military groups from a number of NATO member states and partner countries are participating, including 1 300 Georgians, 1 170 Americans and 500 others.

In total, 13 countries are involved: Georgia, USA, UK, Germany, Estonia, France, Lithuania, Poland, Norway, Turkey, Ukraine, Azerbaijan and Armenia.

According to military experts, these exercises show that the South Caucasus is of great geopolitical importance to the alliance.

This is the fourth time Georgia has hosted the Noble Partner manoeuvres. But this year, the scale of the exercise is unprecedentedly big.

For one thing, more machinery has been used than before, including American and German military vehicles, such as Stryker, M1A2 Abrams battle tanks and Bradley fighting vehicles, have been brought from Romania.

Some American equipment, including Black Hawk and Apache helicopters, which have been taking part in the exercises for the first time, have been brought along via military plane.

At the opening ceremony on 1 August, president Giorgi Margvelashvili thanked the military groups for taking part in the manoeuvres and said that their involvement was ‘a guarantee of stability and of the peace that our governments are working to achieve’.

Georgian prime minister Mamuka Bakhtadze stressed that the manoeuvres weren’t directed against any country.

“The Noble Partner’s goal is to strengthen regional security, peace and stability,” cited him as saying.

Levan Izoria, the Georgian defence minister, said that the manoeuvres ‘not only enhance the cooperation between and the capacity of the armed forces, but also bring us closer to the NATO standards’.

“Georgia has repeatedly proved that it is a reliable and committed partner,” Izoria said. “We have said many times that NATO membership is a key priority for our foreign and security policies.”

More on JAMnews