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Putin: NATO War Games in Georgia Hurt US-Russian Ties

Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin says NATO war games in Georgia are hurting Washington's efforts to rebuild diplomatic ties with Moscow.

In an interview with Japanese media and released Sunday by the Kremlin, Mr. Putin said the NATO maneuvers are pointing diplomacy "in the other direction."

He accused NATO of seeking to prop up Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili, who has been under pressure by the opposition in Georgia to resign.

Mr. Putin said the Saakashvili government does not meet any democratic standards, and he questioned why the West is sending a signal of support at this time.

Critics of Mr. Saakashvili denounce what they call his undemocratic behavior and his handling of last year's brief war with Russia over the breakaway region of South Ossetia.

The Georgian military was routed in the fighting, and Moscow subsequently recognized South Ossetia and another pro-Russian breakaway region, Abkhazia, as separate states.