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Will Brussels heed Moscow’s wishes?2009-04-17 16:47
Russia has asked NATO to refrain from taking any steps which could give Georgia a sense of being able to get away with anything. It is referring to the Bloc's exercises that are planned to be held in May in the republic. Russia's Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said this on 16th April.
"I hope that when the NATO members are planning their upcoming cooperation with Georgia as part of the Partnership for Peace programme, they will avoid taking steps which could again encourage the Georgian regime into a feeling that they can get away with anything without there being any repercussions," RIA Novosti quotes Sergey Lavrov. "A demonstration of complicity by NATO in the actions of the Georgian regime will probably not send the right signal to those who sincerely want to achieve stabilization in the Caucasus." Moreover, Russia's foreign minister called on Tbilisi's partners to "draw the right conclusions from the events in August and understand that arming Georgia is dangerous". He also reminded them that "what Saakashvili's regime did with the
offensive weapons which were supplied to him both legally and illegally".
The foreign minister's statement was timed to coincide with the NATO exercises planned for 6th May to 1st June, which are meant to take place at the Vaziani training ground in Georgia. According to Izvestiya, the military manoeuvres in Georgia were planned a year ago. Their goal is to improve cooperation between the North Atlantic alliance and its partners under the Partnership for Peace programme. 1300 soldiers from 19 countries are expected to take part in them. The exercises will take place in two stages: firstly there will be command and staff exercises aimed at improving the coordination of anti-crisis operations, then field manoeuvres will get underway at the battalion level, reports Gazeta.ru.
The Russians are anxious about the NATO exercises being held in the South Caucasus. It is difficult to correlate the alliance's plans with the stated intention to resume cooperation under the Russia-NATO commission.
"On Wednesday we sent an official address to NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer suggesting that the upcoming NATO exercises in Georgia should be either postponed or cancelled outright," Interfax quotes Russia's envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin. In his opinion, there are several reasons why the North Atlantic alliance should listen to Moscow's opinion. "Firstly, Russia is concerned about any activities by the alliance near its borders. Secondly, Russia is categorically against any actions which could help to militarise Georgia.