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NATO applicant refuses to participate in bloc’s wargames

Georgia’s military is taking part in many other drills at home and abroad, the country’s defense ministry says

The Georgian military will not participate in NATO’s ongoing Defender 23 exercises, and will instead focus on other drills this year, the country’s defense ministry has said.

The wargames, led by the US European Command, kicked off on April 22 and will continue until June 23. According to the Pentagon, their main goal is to boost interoperability between the American forces and their NATO allies in Europe, while also showcasing the ability of the US military to swiftly deploy combat-ready troops and equipment across the continent. Some 9,000 US servicemen and around 17,000 troops from 26 countries are expected to be involved in the annual exercises.

Georgia was initially listed among the participants, but reports emerged that the former Soviet republic would skip Defender 23. On Tuesday, this was officially confirmed by the defense ministry in Tbilisi.


“Based on the goals and objectives of the Defense Forces, through active communication with our main strategic partner, it was decided to direct more efforts and resources to such international and local exercises, which include increasing combat readiness, increasing interoperability with NATO member countries and partners, exchange of experience and improvement of professional skills,” the ministry said in a statement.

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The Georgian forces have already participated in four international drills in 2023 and are planning to take part in several more before the end of the year, the ministry noted.

The leaking of information to the media regarding Georgia’s withdrawal from the NATO drills was “another provocation” against the defense ministry, the statement read.


When asked about the issue by journalists on Sunday, Georgian Defense Minister Juansher Burchuladze explained that the country’s military is taking part in a lot of exercises, and some drills may be skipped due to the additional costs and logistical challenges that they pose. This shouldn’t be considered a problem, he added.

During its Bucharest summit in 2008, NATO said Georgia and Ukraine should join the bloc, but didn’t provide any timeline for their accession. Georgia has retained its status as an “aspirant country” since 2011. In February, a survey by pollster CRRC-Georgia suggested that some 74% of the population were in favor of the country joining the bloc.

READ MORE: German media shares details of NATO-Ukraine talks

Russia has been warning for years that NATO’s eastward expansion toward its borders is a ‘red line’. Kiev’s aspirations of joining the bloc was highlighted by Moscow among the main reasons for launching its military operation in Ukraine more than a year ago.


May 03, 2023 at 04:13PM

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