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Abkhazia warns NATO over exercises in Georgia


SUKHUMI, April 27 (RIA Novosti) - Abkhazia has urged NATO member states not to go ahead with a planned military exercise in Georgia, expressing deep anxiety and concern over the plan, the South Caucasus republic's foreign ministry said on Monday.

The Cooperative Longbow 09/Cooperative Lancer 09 command-and-staff exercise, led by the Western military alliance, will be held from May 6 through June 1, but will not feature light or heavy weaponry.

The ministry said it viewed such exercises as "a politically motivated act" that could destabilize the situation in the region.

The former Georgian republic said last Friday it could hold its own military exercises in response to NATO's planned drills in Georgia.

Russia recognized Abkhazia and South Ossetia as independent states after a five-day war last August with Georgia, which attacked South Ossetia in an attempt to bring it back under central control. Most residents of both Abkhazia and South Ossetia had held Russian citizenship for several years.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has said NATO's decision to hold exercises in Georgia next month threatened to complicate ties with Russia.

NATO said Russia is welcome to join its military exercises in Georgia, but from every indication, the invitation has been ignored by Moscow.

The drills are aimed at improving interoperability between NATO and partner countries, within the framework of Partnership for Peace, Mediterranean Dialogue and Istanbul Cooperation Initiative programs.

NATO said on April 15 that 20 countries would participate in the exercises, but Kazakhstan announced on April 21 that it would not take part. The remaining countries are Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Canada, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Hungary, Greece, Moldova, Serbia, Spain, Macedonia, Turkey, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, Britain, and the United States.

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