NATO to begin military exercises in Georgia

NATO to begin military exercises in Georgia

The seventh annual Agile Spirit drills will take place today. Normally a bilateral exercise of the US and Georgia, this

Agile Spirit FB

Photo: AFP

The seventh annual Agile Spirit drills will take place today. Normally a bilateral exercise of the US and Georgia, this year’s drills are being held under NATO’s sponsorship, including over 1,000 service members from Bulgaria, Ukraine, Latvia, Romania and Azerbaijan, as well as 500 US Marines.

Moscow maintains several military bases in the breakaway Georgian provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, some of which provide the Kremlin invaluable port access to the Mediterranean. These territories also stifle Georgia’s ability to integrate further with the West, primarily NATO, which has shied away from granting the Caucasus state membership to avoid antagonising Russia.

The exercises, along with a continual bolstering of Eastern Europe’s military forces, will be a show of force by NATO. The hope is that they will assure many Eastern European states of NATO’s commitment to minimising Russian expansion and deterring any further Russian incursions.

Given recent Russian encroachments further into Georgia, coupled with fresh sanctions on Moscow approved by the White House, the exercises are unlikely to provoke Russia into rolling back any of its instalments in countries like Ukraine, Moldova, and Georgia.