Nato to begin Georgia exercises

Georgia hopes the drills will prove it can host major international eventsNato is to start a series of military exercises in Georgia, a day after the government thwarted an attempt by its own soldiers to stage a mutiny.

Soldiers from 18 countries are taking part in the drills at a Georgian army base close to the capital, Tbilisi.

But Russia has said the exercises amount to a provocation.

They come just nine months after Russia’s short war with Georgia and are taking place close to areas where Russian troops are stationed.

More than 1,000 soldiers will take part in exercises over a period of more than three weeks.

For Georgia, which has been promised eventual Nato membership, the exercises are a sign that, despite doubts over its candidate status after last year’s war with Russia, it has not been forgotten.

Russia views the exercises as a provocation and has turned down an invitation to send observers.

In recent days its security forces have officially begun patrolling the border between South Ossetia, the epicentre of last summer’s conflict, and Georgia.

The Georgian government has repeatedly said Russia’s actions are to blame for raising tension in the region.

It also accuses Moscow of backing the mutiny at an army base on Tuesday and supporting an alleged coup plot. Russia has denied the allegations.

The Georgian government is hopeful that the Nato exercises will give it a chance to prove to its Western allies that it can host an important international event without further disturbances.