The Russian Foreign Ministry has expressed strong opposition to the opening of a training center run by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in neighboring Georgia, describing the measure as provocative.
Speaking at a press briefing in the capital, Moscow, on Thursday, the ministry’s spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, stated that further enhancement of military ties between the Western military alliance and Tbilisi would undermine security in the region.
“The North Atlantic alliance’s placement of that kind of military facility in Georgia will be a serious destabilizing factor for security in the region,” she added.
The remarks came after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg inaugurated a training base in Georgia earlier in the day, pledging that the former Soviet republic could count on its Western allies.
Stoltenberg added that the center would ensure “NATO will be more present and more visible in Georgia,” noting that the facility would offer Georgia higher chances to join the US-led military contingent.
Russian authorities have long opposed NATO’s plans for military expansion in Europe, stating that the expansion of the Western military force into post-Soviet space is a red line for Moscow.
NATO officials, on the other hand, have asserted that the training center and closer military cooperation between the military alliance and Tbilisi are not aimed at Russia and are well calibrated not to stoke tensions in the region.
Earlier this year, Stoltenberg told reporters in the Belgian capital city of Brussels that troopers from NATO, Georgia and other NATO member states would train and exercise at the Tbilisi center.
‘’NATO-Georgia relations are very strong, and they are deepening,” Stoltenberg said, adding, “NATO is committed to help Georgia make its defense more modern, and thereby enable Georgia to move closer to NATO membership.”
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