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Russia Urges NATO to Call Off Exercises in Georgia


Russia is urging NATO to postpone military exercises in Georgia scheduled to start next month.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told reporters the planned May 6 to June 1 exercises risk further undermining stability in the troubled Caucasus region. He spoke on the sidelines of a meeting of foreign ministers of Black Sea countries in the Armenian capital, Yerevan.

A NATO spokesman, Robert Pszczel, said the drills, involving 1,300 troops from 19 countries, are "no surprise" because they were scheduled long in advance. He noted that the exercises, which will be held 20 kilometers east of Tbilisi, will not involve the use heavy equipment.

The French news agency, AFP, quoted Georgia's Minister for European and Euro-Atlantic Integration, Giorgi Baramidze, as calling the Russian warnings interference in Georgia's internal affairs.

Russia sees neighboring Georgia as part of its sphere of influence and sent troops into the country after Georgians tried to retake the breakaway South Ossetia region last year.


Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.

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