Georgia: NATO troops kick off 2017 Agile Spirit military exercise
Agile Spirit 2019 multinational military exercises kick off in Georgia
Russia begins large-scale military exercises in the occupied territories of Georgia
The multinational military exercises Agile Spirit 2019 (“Agile Spirit 2019”) will begin in Georgia on July 27. More than 3,000 military personnel from 14 NATO member states and NATO partner countries will take part in them, in particular from Bulgaria, Belgium, Great Britain, Georgia, Greece, Latvia, Lithuania, USA, Montenegro, Norway, Poland, Romania, Turkey and Ukraine. … The maneuvers will be held under the joint leadership of the Georgian Defense Forces and the European Command of the US Armed Forces. Agile Spirit Exercises To Be Held In Georgia For The Ninth Time.
According to Levan Izoria, the head of the Georgian defense department, compared to last year, this year’s exercises will be twice as large in terms of the number of military personnel and military equipment involved..
“The aim of this year’s exercise is to improve interoperability between participating countries, to fine-tune and enhance operational capabilities when planning and executing operations in a multinational environment, and to develop command and control capabilities between units of the alliance and partner countries,” Izoria said..
The Georgian Defense Minister also noted that a new component of the exercises is the development of measures to improve the security of the Black Sea region. Izoria stressed that the maneuvers will contribute to the implementation of “our main principle – more NATO in Georgia”, which will practically become the basis for the future integration of our country into the North Atlantic Alliance “.
It is noteworthy that since 2011, the Agile Spirit exercises have been held in Georgia annually, initially as part of the US military cooperation with Georgia. These exercises were also aimed at increasing the compatibility of the Georgian Armed Forces with NATO standards, and preparing the Georgian military for participation in international peacekeeping operations. Since 2015, Agile Spirit has evolved into a multinational military exercise, and the US and Georgia have launched a new annual joint exercise Noble Partner, which is regularly held at the Vaziani training ground..
On the eve of NATO exercises in Georgia, on the territory of occupied South Ossetia and Abkhazia, as well as Armenia and Russia, large-scale exercises also began on August 24. The 49th and 58th combined-arms armies of Russia and units of the 102nd military base located in Armenia are involved in them. At the same time, the number of servicemen taking part in the maneuvers has not been reported. The Russian exercises are headed by the commander of the military district Colonel-General Alexander Dvornikov.
“The stage of the most intensive combat training of the summer training period will develop into the phase of bilateral command and staff exercises, in which absolutely all the military units of the district will be involved, including the Black Sea Fleet and the Caspian Flotilla,” Dvornikov said in a commentary for the media.
“Tear off from Russia”?
Meanwhile, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov spoke about the negative role of the West in relations between Georgia from Russia.
“Our Western colleagues, primarily the United States, are trying in every possible way to tear our neighbors away from the Russian Federation,” Lavrov told reporters on July 24.
He also spoke negatively about the Georgian-American military cooperation, stating that in 2008, before the Russian-Georgian war broke out, “dozens of American instructors worked there, trained both Georgian special forces and military personnel in general.”.
According to Lavrov, Moscow never sought to worsen relations with Tbilisi and that ties between the countries were severed due to the fault of Mikhail Saakashvili, who was then president of Georgia..
Recall that Tbilisi severed diplomatic relations with Moscow after, as a result of the Russian-Georgian war, Russia recognized the independence of two Georgian regions – Abkhazia and South Ossetia, and transferred additional troops and weapons to its military bases in these territories. All states of the world – with the exception of Venezuela, Nicaragua, Nauru and Syria – consider these regions as the territory of Georgia under Russian occupation..
Atlantic integration of Georgia and Russia
George Mchedlishvili from the International Black Sea University noted in a commentary to the Russian service of “Voice of America” the fact that Tbilisi is conducting Agile Spirit exercises on its territory for the ninth time. According to him, this indicates the intensity of the country’s desire to integrate into Euro-Atlantic structures. The political scientist explained that in this important matter for Georgia, it is the United States that is “the largest, loyal and trusting partner.”.
“For nine years, the leadership of both Georgia and the United States has changed, but the very fact that Tbilisi and Washington continue to conduct these exercises, moreover, the fact that they are growing in scale, confirms that the strategic partnership between the countries is developing and that Georgia is advancing. in the direction of Atlantic integration “, – noted Mchedlishvili.
The expert considers the reaction of Russia to the NATO exercises held in Georgia predictable and reminds that Moscow is not the first time, “according to its logic, symmetrically”, reacts to similar events. Mchedlishvili says that usually Russia timed military exercises in the occupied territories of Georgia on such dates or moves the line of occupation deep into the territory controlled by the central authorities of Georgia.
According to the political scientist, by retaliatory actions, Moscow makes it clear that Georgia’s pro-Western orientation is unacceptable for it. This is precisely what Sergei Lavrov’s words about the fact that the United States allegedly want to “tear” Georgia away from Russia confirm. At the same time, the expert draws attention to the “typical propaganda component” in the statement of the Russian minister, in particular, the fact that the western path is allegedly not the choice of the Georgian people themselves, but the result of the intervention of the United States.
“Georgia itself is striving for the West, and over the years this has been confirmed by all public opinion polls. But it is interesting that this desire is caused primarily by Russia’s aggressive policy, Russian support for separatism and attempts to weaken Georgia’s statehood. The joint military exercises of Georgia and NATO eloquently underline not only the pro-Western aspirations of Georgia, but also the support of its Euro-Atlantic integration on the part of Western partners, which, of course, causes a sharp reaction from Russia, whose task is to drive Georgia back into its sphere of influence, ”the political scientist summed up.