(Reuters) - NATO launched military exercises in Georgia on Wednesday. The following are facts about the military exercises in the former Soviet state.
* The military exercises are being held under NATO’s Partnership for Peace programme. Under this programme NATO works with non-NATO countries to build up military cooperation.
* Russia has described the military exercises as NATO “muscle flexing.” Georgia has said the aim of the exercises is to bring Georgia’s military in line with NATO standards.
* NATO is holding two different exercises in Georgia between May 6 and June 1.
The first exercise is named Cooperative Longbow 09 and aims to improve coordination between brigade commanders with procedure, coordination and command systems. It was scheduled to involve around 220 soldiers and does not involve tanks.
The second exercise is named Cooperative Lancer 09. This is a live firing exercise termed “crisis response” and aims to improve cooperation at battalion level. The exercise was planned for around 400 soldiers and does not involve tanks.
* NATO said both exercises had been planned last year before a brief war in August between Georgia and Russia. The exercises were scheduled to take place at the Vaziani base, around 20 kilometres (12.4 miles) east of the Georgian capital Tbilisi.
* Countries due to take part in the exercises include:
Azerbaijan (non-NATO state only due to take part in exercise Longbow)
* Non-NATO countries that have told NATO they are pulling out of the exercises include:
Armenia (which had been due to send seven soldiers to exercise Longbow and 30 soldiers to exercise Lancer)
Moldova (two in Longbow, 26 in Lancer)
Serbia (two in Longbow)
Switzerland (two in Longbow, six in Lancer)
United Arab Emirates (one in Longbow)
* Non-NATO Kazakhstan’s defence minister said last month that it would pull out of the military exercise, although NATO said it has not yet received official notification of its withdrawal.
-- Information from NATO’s Web site www.nato.int and the press office at NATO’s Allied Command Operations.
Writing by James Kilner in Moscow