Russia says U.S.-Georgia military exercises threaten peace

MOSCOW Fri Mar 22, 2013 10:48am EDT

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague (UNSEEN) hold a joint news conference in Lancaster House in central London March 13, 2013. REUTERS/Oli Scarff/Pool

Russia's Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Britain's Foreign Secretary William Hague (UNSEEN) hold a joint news conference in Lancaster House in central London March 13, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Oli Scarff/Pool

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MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia criticized the United States and Georgia on Friday over their joint military exercises in the former Soviet republic, accusing Washington of putting peace at risk five years after a war between Moscow and Tbilisi.

The United States started annual training exercises in Georgia in 2010, two years after Tbilisi fought a five-day war with its former Soviet master over two breakaway Georgian regions.

The Russian Foreign Ministry voiced "concern" about the exercises at Vaziani military training ground, in which 400 U.S. marines are participating. They started on March 11 and continue until April 5.

"We believe that any foreign military assistance to Georgia, whatever the motivation, complicates the prospects for strengthening peace and stability in the region," the ministry said in a statement.

Russia and Georgia accuse each other of starting the 2008 war, in which Russian forces repelled a Georgian offensive in breakaway South Ossetia and drove deep into the small ex-Soviet republic before a ceasefire brokered by the European Union.

Moscow has repeatedly warned that U.S. military aid or cooperation could encourage pro-Western Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, portrayed by the Kremlin as bellicose and unbalanced, to unleash a new conflict.

The United States and Georgia say the exercises are aimed at training for combat in Afghanistan, where Georgian soldiers have served since 2004, underscoring the nation's desire for closer cooperation with NATO.

Ties between Russia and Georgia have improved since Saakashvili's party lost its dominance in parliament in elections last October and billionaire Bidzina Ivanishvili, who made his fortune in Russia, became prime minister.

Saakashvili's efforts to bring Georgia into NATO angered the Kremlin and added to tension that led to the war in the South Caucasus nation, which has pipelines carrying Caspian oil and gas westward toward Europe, bypassing northern neighbor Russia.

(Additional reporting by Margarita Antidze in Tbilisi; Editing by Steve Gutterman)

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Comments (7)
jbinla wrote:
So the country providing military and nuclear technology and assistance to Iran has a problem with 400 marines training “superpower” Georgia and sees it as a threat to security and stability in the region? Am I the only one that sees a colossal amount of hypocrisy here??

Mar 22, 2013 1:00pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
NeilMcGowan wrote:
@jbinla

So, unhappy with how your US-ordered, US-paid Georgian invasion and strike on S Ossetia went, huh??

Maybe you’d like to aid the scum nation of the Caucasus in an attempt to regain the territory they lost? Go ahead. Be my guest. And this time Russia will reduce Gori to rubble, as it should have done last time.

Mar 22, 2013 3:12pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
MikeBarnett wrote:
Stalin drew the boundaries of Soviet Republics to spit up minorities so he could divide and rule. Ossetians and Abkhazians are not Georgians. In 1992, brave Russian troops rescued Ossetians and Abkhazians from Georgian ethnic cleansing to correct one of Stalin’s crimes. In 1995, US and NATO cowards let Serbia murder 7,000 men and boys at Srebrenica. In 2008, courageous Russians saved Ossetians from Georgia. The BBC showed news videos of Georgian heavy artillery shelling the city of Tskhinvali, a war crime under the Geneva Conventions. John McCain wanted to detonate Russian H-bombs over US cities to defend the racist policies of Stalin. American liars said the rapid Russian response proved that the war was a Russian plot, but they ignored Chechnya, next to Georgia, where a Russian army and air force are stationed, allowing that rapid response. Georgian leaders are racist war criminals, but they are stupid racist war criminals. The US has a long history of supporting murderers and criminals, like the Shah of Iran, Bautista, and Somoza, in US foreign policies.

Mar 22, 2013 4:07pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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