US Military Postpones Training Drill With Georgia Amid Strained Relations

Pentagon says decision prompted by ‘false accusations’ by the Georgian government against the United States and ’other western entities.’

The U.S. military has halted a set of training exercises with Georgia while the Pentagon reviews its bilateral security partnership with the Eurasian country.

While the U.S. Army was set to train with its Georgian counterparts from July 25 to Aug. 6 as part of the regular Noble Partner exercise, the Pentagon said on July 5 that it had indefinitely postponed the event.

The decision was prompted by what the Pentagon described as “false accusations” against the United States and “other Western entities” by the Georgian government.

The Pentagon statement alluded to comments by some Georgian government officials that accused Western actors of trying to turn Georgia into a second front in a war with Russia. The Pentagon also took issue with comments by officials within Georgia’s government that accused the United States or other Western actors of fomenting unrest within Georgian society.

“The United States Government has determined that this is an inappropriate time to hold a large-scale military exercise in Georgia,” the Pentagon stated.

The Pentagon said it didn’t make its postponement decision lightly and that it would look for other ways to keep “strengthening Georgia’s ability to safeguard its sovereignty and maintain its territorial integrity.”The Pentagon didn’t specifically cite Georgia’s new law, enacted in May, that requires greater transparency from foreign organizations operating within its borders, but the law has rankled the U.S. government in recent months.

Supporters of Georgia’s foreign agent law have cast it as a means of protecting the country from malign foreign interests operating as ostensibly neutral civil society organizations.

Some critics have argued that the foreign agent law stifles freedoms of speech and association within Georgia and even reflects a pro-Russia bent. Critics also have argued that the law conflicts with Georgia’s aspirations for membership in the European Union.

Government officials within the United States, the UK, France, and other EU nations had urged Georgia’s lawmakers to scrap the law. Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili vetoed the bill, but her effort was overridden by its supporters, led by the Georgian Dream party.

The U.S. State Department imposed visa restrictions on numerous Georgian officials last month. The restrictions primarily targeted Georgian Dream party members and other parliamentarians who had advanced the foreign agent law.

State Department spokesman Vedant Patel recently said that the U.S. government is looking for ways to maintain ties with Georgia, despite the disagreement over its foreign agent law.

“We still believe it’s important to engage, and there continue to be other issues that we have no doubt we’ll talk about,” Mr. Patel said at a July 1 news briefing.

The U.S. military also appears inclined to preserve a working relationship with Georgia.

Past iterations of the multinational Noble Partner exercise have seen the soldiers of U.S. Army Europe–Africa train Georgian forces to operate alongside U.S. troops and troops of NATO nations. Although Georgia is not a NATO member, it has contributed forces to past NATO operations, and, according to the alliance, was one of the largest non-NATO contributors of troops to the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

The U.S. and Georgian militaries take part in other joint training events, including the biennial Agile Spirit exercise. The Pentagon said in its July 5 statement that the United States looks forward to the next Agile Spirit exercise in 2025, indicating that it plans to continue training exercises with Georgia’s military.


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