NATO Bars Russia From Joining Military Exercise

BRUSSELS -- NATO confirmed Thursday that it had barred a Russian ship from joining its multinational anti-terrorism exercise in the Mediterranean.

A NATO diplomat said Wednesday that Washington had withheld its agreement for the Black Sea patrol ship Ladny to join NATO's Operation Active Endeavor in apparent retaliation for Moscow's military action against Georgia.

"The allies considered it was not appropriate at this time to approve the deployment of that ship," NATO spokeswoman Carmen Romero said.

The exercise, being held this month and next, was first launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks on the United States and involves anti-terrorism exercises and practicing search-and-rescue operations at sea. The Ladny had already arrived off the coast of Turkey to take part in the operation.

NATO diplomats said the U.S. administration had also blocked so far a Russian request for an emergency meeting of the NATO-Russia Council to discuss the crisis in the Caucasus.

Russian Ambassador Dmitry Rogozin submitted the request Monday, and NATO officials had originally said the meeting could take place Tuesday, but it was put off, and NATO said more time was needed for preparation.

Instead, Washington has called a special meeting of NATO foreign ministers next Tuesday to discuss the Georgia crisis without Russia.