Russia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia consider Tbilisi’s continuing cooperation with NATO to be “a real threat” to regional security in Transcaucasia, as stated on the website of the Russian Foreign Ministry.
Concerns among the delegations were caused by military exercises of NATO member countries in the territory of Georgia in the summer and autumn of 2017. “A record number of servicemen and heavy equipment was involved. The emissaries of individual NATO states who were present at the exercises stressed the anti-Russian nature of the maneuvers,” the statement said. The Foreign Ministry added that the exercises, in its opinion, were significant for Georgia from the point of view of the future “de-occupation” of South Ossetia.
Russian diplomats stressed that such actions by Tbilisi and members of the Alliance run counter to the goals of the Geneva International Discussions.
In July, ten NATO countries, including the United States, Great Britain, Germany, Spain, and Turkey, sent servicemen to Georgia to participate in the Noble Partner 2017 exercises. The maneuvers were conducted from July 30 to August 13, and about 3,000 soldiers were involved in the exercises.
In September, the multinational NATO exercise Agile Spirit 2017 was held in Georgia. In total, according to Georgia.Online, 1,500 military personnel took part in the exercise.
At the same time, the Zapad-2017 joint military exercises of Russia and Belarus, in which 13,000 servicemen participated, provoked fears among the North Atlantic alliance. The exercises were held on September 14-20. The Russian Deputy Minister of Defense, Alexander Fomin, in an interview with Deutsche Welle, urged his “neighbors to calm down” and argued that the military training was of an “absolutely peaceful” nature.