The NATO alliance and the former Soviet republic of Georgia will hold NATO-Georgia Exercise 2019 at the NATO-Georgian Joint Training and Evaluation Center (JTEC) from 18-29 March of this year. Georgia fought a war against Russia in 2008 over the breakaway territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia; the two regions are still occupied by Russian forces and are considered ‘frozen conflicts’ of the Soviet Union.
The Georgian Ministry of Defense stated that the NATO-Georgia Exercise 2019 is the 2nd exercise as part of the Substantial NATO-Georgia Package (SNGP). The first joint exercise took place in 2016, reported Trend.
“The NATO-Georgia Exercise 2019 is the most important exercise for Georgia and the cornerstone for enhancing military-political cooperation between NATO and Georgia,” the Ministry of Defense states, adding that “the exercises aim to increase the interaction of the Georgian Armed Forces with members of the alliance and partner countries, as well as strengthening the capabilities of command and control of the Georgian Armed Forces,” said the statement from Georgia Online.
More than 350 soldiers from 21 NATO member states (Albania, Belgium, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Germany, Denmark, Estonia, France, Greece, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Slovakia, Turkey, the UK and the US) and 4 NATO partner countries (Azerbaijan, Finland, Georgia and Sweden) will take part in the exercises.
NATO expansion has been a big issue in recent years as the alliance has admitted most nations of the Balkan region in an attempt to prevent perceived Russian aggression in Eastern Europe. Ukraine, Georgia, and Moldova are all targets of forces in favor of extending alliance territory to the border of the Russian Federation.