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Georgia: post-riot maneuvers2009-05-07 18:17
NATO initiated Cooperative Longbow 09/Cooperative Lancer 09 exercises in Georgia. The republic's Ministry of Defense stated that regardless of the riot in Mukhrovani armored battalion the military exercises would be carried out as planned.
The NATO exercises have two formats - command-staff drills and field drills. The first stage will be held in Georgia on May 6-19, the second - from May 21 to June 3, BBC reports. Around a thousand servicemen are expected to take part in the exercises. Initially 19 NATO member states and partners were invited to participate in the maneuvers. However Armenia, Latvia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Moldavia, Serbia and Switzerland refused to send their militaries to Vasiani training field of Georgia.
Command-staff drills are aimed at enhancement of interoperability between partner countries at a level of multinational brigades operating during crisis situations, ITAR-TASS reports. One of the major tasks of the command-staff stage of the maneuvers is cooperation on the level of multinational brigades to manage emergencies. It might seem the first stage of the maneuvers is quite harmless but it's wrong. According to VZGLYAD newspaper the exercises involve modern communications media and reconnaissance devices. Thus Georgian officers are trained to manage troops in practice.
The second stage is preparation for peacekeeping operations at a battalion level. Though Georgian Ministry of Defense stated earlier that the heavy equipment would not be used at the time of the exercises the maneuvers are at a battalion level - which is quite indicative.
Georgia's closest neighbors - South Ossetia and Abkhazia are keeping close track of the developments being ready for possible aggravations. According to the Chief of Staff of the Abkhaz Armed Forces Anatoly Zaitsev the republican army was put on constant alert. The control over the Georgian-Abkhaz border was intensified. "We are unaware of the final plans of the exercises, - Interfax quotes. - The Georgian authorities cannot be trusted and they are constantly bluffing. Saakashvili used to say he was going to solve all conflicts in a peaceful way, no power or military operations would be applied and then he unleashed the war against South Ossetia. Isn't it a good example of deceit and craftiness that is considered a ruse of war in Tbilisi?"
The same question was asked in Tskhinval. According to President Edward Kokoyty a number of South Ossetian units on the border with Georgia are transferred to intensified duty.