Russia Withdraws From NATO Meeting, Others Follow   Leave a comment

lavrov1Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has withdrawn NATO-Russia Council meeting planned for Brussels this month to protest the alliance’s upcoming military exercises in Georgia and the expulsion of two Russian diplomats from its headquarters.

Lavrov’s decision to withdraw from the May 19 meeting was based on concerns about the exercises that start Wednesday and over the expulsions last week, which were in apparent retaliation for a spy case dating back to February.

Russia is frustrated by what it sees as Western meddling in its traditional sphere of influence and opposes Georgia’s efforts to join NATO. NATO maintains the war games in Georgia, which fought a short war with Russia last August, are not directed at Russia.

The NATO exercises, which continue through June 1, were initially to include about 1,300 personnel from 19 NATO and partner nations.

Some former Soviet republics have decided not to participate.

Among the countries to back out was Armenia, which is dependent on Russia for its economic survival. Four other former Soviet republics — Estonia, Latvia, Kazakhstan and Moldova — and Serbia have also pulled out.

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