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Russia Slams Upcoming U.S.-Georgian Military Drills

Russia has criticized upcoming joint military exercises involving the United States and Georgia.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said on May 6 that the military drills were a provocative step that could destabilize the Caucasus region.

Russia and Georgia fought a brief war in 2008 and Russia backs the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on the Russian-Georgian border.

The training exercises, dubbed Noble Partner 2016, are due to take place in Georgia from May 11 to May 26.

Tbilisi says a total of 1,300 troops will take part in the exercises -- including 650 troops from the U.S. European Command, 650 Georgian troops, and 150 British soldiers.

Georgia's Defense Ministry says the main goal of the operation is to increase the ability of Georgian forces to work as part of a NATO response force.

On March 5, U.S. tanks and armored personnel carriers arrived in the Black Sea port of Poti to take part in the drills, the first such deployment of U.S. military hardware in Georgia.

Based on reporting by Reuters