Joint NATO-Georgia Exercises to Kick Off Near Tbilisi
(Source: Radio Free Europe/ Radio Liberty; issued March 17, 2019)
Around 350 personnel from 24 NATO member states and partner countries are set to kick off 11 days of joint military exercises in Georgia on March 18.

The drills, dubbed NATO-Georgia Exercise 2019, are to run until March 29 at the Krtsanisi National Training Center near Tbilisi.

The exercise is “an important exercise for Georgia and a significant milestone in strengthening NATO-Georgia military-political cooperation,” a statement from the Western military alliance said.

NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg is set to visit Georgia during the exercise to meet with the Caucasus republic's leadership and attend the drills.

"This is an exercise which we have [held] regularly and it illustrates that NATO and Georgia -- we are close partners," Stoltenberg told journalists in Brussels on March 6.

The first NATO-Georgia exercise was held in 2016.

At a 2008 summit, NATO agreed that Georgia will eventually become a member of the alliance but no firm date has been given, although the membership perspective for the country has been reconfirmed at every summit ever since.

Moscow has made explicit its opposition to NATO’s further expansion, especially as regards to Georgia and Ukraine. Kyiv also seeks to become a member of the security alliance.

Georgia, a country of some 3.7 million people, fought a brief war with Russia in August 2008, and Moscow’s continued military presence on Georgian territory adds to tensions in the region.

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