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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Lavrov Raps Next Month's NATO Exercises in Georgia

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday that NATO's military exercises in Georgia planned for next month would not help regional stability.

"The demonstration of NATO complicity with ... the Georgian regime is unlikely to send the right signal to those sincerely wishing to achieve stability in the Caucasus," Lavrov said.

NATO has said it will hold exercises involving 1,300 troops from 19 countries from May 6 to June 1 in Georgia, to which the alliance has promised eventual membership and who fought a war with Russia last August.

Russia's envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, urged the alliance on Thursday to call off the exercises.

"This is absurd and a provocation," Rogozin said. "I have asked the NATO secretary-general ... to postpone these exercises or to cancel them."

Russia, which sees Georgia as part of its traditional sphere of influence, sent troops into the country after its troops tried to retake South Ossetia.

Rogozin rejected NATO's argument that the exercises were planned last year before the war in Georgia.

NATO says the exercises will be held 20 kilometers east of Tbilisi and will be aimed at improving coordination between NATO members and their partner countries. "The scenario is based on a fictitious United Nations mandated, NATO-led crisis response operation," the alliance said.

NATO spokesman Robert Pszczel said Russia is welcome to join the military exercises.