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Most scandalous NATO exercises over2009-06-02 12:15
NATO's Cooperative Longbow 09/Cooperative Lancer 09 exercises at Vaziani training area that started on May 6 are over becoming the most scandalous in history.gt-en-newsitem-inside
Around 700 servicemen from 13 countries took part in the NATO military exercises in Georgia, BBC reports. The military maneuvers were divided in two stages with the first part being command-staff drills on May 6-19. The main task set before the troops was to improve compatibility between partner-states at the level of multinational brigades operating during crisis situations, ITAR-TASS reported. Modern communications media as well as intelligence equipment were used for the exercises. The second stage envisaged 10 days' field drills with the soldiers practicing peacekeeping operations at a battalion level.
Before the servicemen of NATO member states and partners started coming to the Georgian capital Armenia, Latvia, Estonia, Kazakhstan, Moldavia, Serbia and Switzerland withdrew their participation in the drills which was not accidental.
In April Russia's Plenipotentiary to NATO Dmitry Rogozin called the military maneuvers planned in Georgia "the alliance's intervention in the state's internal affairs considering the political situation when Georgian opposition started an open-ended protest action", - RIA Novosti reported. "From an outside perspective these exercises look like support to Mikheil Saakashvili, and a challenge to the country's opposition, and mainly to Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Russia that cannot keep still in this situation. Any attempts to encourage Saakashvili's regime look monstrous with regard to the victims sacrificed at the altar of his Napoleonic ambition,", - the Russian diplomat emphasized then.
In view of this Moscow suggested that Brussels hold over the exercises. "The demonstration of NATO's complicity with the Georgian regime is unlikely to send the right signal to those who really strive for stability in the Caucasus; - Russian FM Sergey Lavrov said calling on Tbilisi's partners to draw right conclusions from the August events and realize it was dangerous to equip Georgia with arms. However in reply the NATO representatives retorted the exercises had been scheduled long before and were within the Partnership for Peace program. NATO was cynical enough to invite Russia to take part in the maneuvers too.
Naturally Moscow said no: how could the representatives of the country whose peacekeepers were dying under the hail of Georgian bullets and shells in Tskhinval go to Georgia?
Russia-NATO misunderstanding led to rumors on possible breakdown of the tentative "reset" in Russia-USA relations. "The White House new team must forego plans to hold the exercises; - KM.ru quoted Theo Sommer, an expert. - The NATO Commander-in-Chief is an American after all. We are left to think that in search of a "reset" button the Americans have pressed a wrong one".
The cancellation of the meeting between Russia-NATO Chiefs of Defense was another confirmation. The fact is that the NATO scheduled exercises as well as the USA's intention to continue arms supplies to Tbilisi is an obvious violation of a number of agreements that were achieved with the USA and other countries. "These are agreements on arms supply control and two OSCE documents (at a minimum) stipulating prohibition on arms supply to conflict areas, - Sergey Ryabkov, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister was quoted on Rosbalt. - The aggressor must not be rearmed. This is a direct way to destabilization of the situation".
Strangely enough the arming and training of the aggressor continued. And the confrontational logic of the Cold War only contributed to poisoning the Russia-NATO relations. In this situation even NATO's leading member states raised their voice. Right after the start of the exercises German FM Frank Walter Steinmeier came forward with severe criticism of the military drills in unstable Georgia: "One should have carefully considered whether this is the right time to let the exercises take place there, - Izvesita quoted. - For again Saakashvili who was clearly made to understand that accession into NATO was out question for his republic in the near future has another occasion to speak about unconditional support for his policies in the West".
Washington wasn't silent either. Unexpectedly for everyone the meeting between President Barack Obama and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov took place with the American leader remarking "we have an excellent opportunity to reset the relationship between the United States and Russia on a whole host of issues", - VZGLYAD newspaper wrote. Hillary Clinton supported her boss highlighting that disagreement in one area did not mean the dialogue on other issues should be interrupted. "I have a deep respect for the Russian people, - BBC quoted. - We must think about the future and stop sticking to the past. The situation has changed".
The situation around the exercises at Vaziani training area really changed after that meeting.
There was no extra ado over the maneuvers in the republic. And the change of Washington's tonality led to believe that the US were not absolutely happy to be involved in an adventure with Georgia distracted by internal political contradictions and its unpredictable president Saakashvili. The maneuver story was a scandal in the end. The exercises have hardly been of any advantage to the alliance. Neither Tbilisi has managed to yield any political dividends.
Photo by Reuters