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Europe

Medvedev warns NATO over Georgia exercises

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has lambasted NATO's plan to hold exercises in Georgia next month as a "dangerous decision," and said Moscow will monitor events closely.

The gates at NATO's headquarters, member flags in background.

NATO excercises in Georgia set for next month have annoyed Russia

Medvedev said NATO was using the exercises to flex its muscles in the Caucasus, according to the Interfax news agency.

At a press conference with Azerbaijan's president, Ilham Aliyev, in Moscow, Medvedev warned that the exercises could cause "different kinds of complications" and could threaten a recent thaw in Russia-NATO relations.

Russia's brief war with Georgia last August over Georgia's breakaway province of South Ossetia had strained the relationship and caused NATO to freeze high-level contacts with Russia in protest.

Medvedev said that NATO's impending military exercises in Georgia could damage the reconciliation process.

"This decision appears to be short-sighted," he said. "Such decisions are disappointing and do not facilitate the resumption of full-scale contacts between the Russian Federation and NATO."

Earlier, Russia's NATO mission in Brussels had said it would ask the alliance to postpone the exercises.

NATO announced earlier this week that the exercises in Georgia would go ahead from May 6, to improve cooperation between the Western alliance and partner countries.

The exercises have been planned since the spring of 2008, and are to involve about 1,300 personnel from 19 NATO and partner countries.

Moscow treats any cooperation between NATO and Georgia with suspicion. The pro-Western government of the former Soviet republic has pushed hard to join the alliance, but this has been met with mixed responses from current members.

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