Russia has urged NATO to call off planned military exercises in Georgia saying they counter efforts to rebuild ties.
Some 1,300 troops from 19 countries are expected to take part in the exercises next month despite Russia declaring the move as a provocation. While no timetable exists, Georgia has been promised full membership of NATO. But Russia has long regarded the former Soviet republic as being part of its traditional sphere of influence. Last summer, there was a short but bitter war between the two states over the pro-Moscow breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia. With the appointment earlier this month of new NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the news that it intends to go through with the exercises comes at a time when it is seeking to improve ties with the Kremlin. Earlier this year, both Russia and NATO agreed to resume full-scale relations.