Russia Calls U.S.-Led Military Exercises In Georgia Provocation
Xinhua News Agency
March 14, 2012
Russia calls U.S.-Georgia drills “provocation”
MOSCOW: Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov has described joint U.S.-Georgia drills which started Wednesday as “provocation”.
“The drills are supposed to be for the suppression of riots. I told the (U.S.) Secretary of State that this looks like provocation,” Lavrov told a meeting in the Russian State Duma, the lower house of parliament.
Moscow hoped those holding the exercises would bear in mind the fragile stability in Trans-Caucasian region, Lavrov said.
Meanwhile, he denied Moscow had urged anyone to recognize the independence of Georgia’s breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, saying Russia had only actively supported the regions in expanding their international contacts.
“We do not hold these talks. This is a business of our allies, Abkhazia and South Ossetia,” Lavrov said, adding Russia would support its friends politically.
Moscow recognized the two regions’ independence in August 2008 following a brief armed conflict with Georgia. In response, Georgia severed its diplomatic relations with Russia.
March 14, 2012
Russia’s Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, said that ongoing joint U.S.-Georgian military exercises “seems somewhat provocative” and that he had raised this “serious issue” when he met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton earlier this week in New York.
He was apparently referring to two-week long Agile Spirit 2012 drills launched outside Tbilisi on March 10.
Speaking at a session of Russia’s lower house of Parliament, State Duma, on March 14, Lavrov said that the Russian side inquired with the U.S. officials about President Saakashvili’s statements about deepening defense cooperation with Washington.
“He [Saakashvili] was in Washington not long ago [in late January] and after talks with Obama he said, that the U.S. would restore in its full capacity military cooperation with them [Georgia]. We have asked Americans and it turned out that he [Saakashvili] has exaggerated perceptions of what he actually heard [at the meeting with President Obama],” Lavrov said.
“I met with [the U.S. Secretary of State] Hillary Clinton [in New York on March 12] and raised another serious issue – the U.S.-Georgian military exercises are starting,” Lavrov said. “The scenario of the exercises is the suppression of a rebellion. It seems somewhat provocative.”
Commenting on Lavrov’s remarks, Secretary of Georgia’s National Security Council, Giga Bokeria, said on March 14, that it was “cynical on the part of the country…to express concern over our close cooperation with our strategic partners.”
“It is not their [Russian authorities’] business,” Bokeria said.
“The defense and security cooperation between Georgia and the United States is deepening and it will continue; neither Mr. Lavrov nor the entire Russian government can influence it,” he said.