For the first time ever, the U.S. Army has sent Abrams tanks to take part in an exercise in Georgia, on the Black Sea coast. The tanks will take part in an annual exercise on Russia’s southern flank, where Moscow fought a war in 2008. About 1,300 troops from Georgia, the U.K., and the United States will take part in the exercises that kicked off on May 11. They’ll wrap up on the 26th -- Georgia’s Independence Day -- which we have to admit is a nice touch. The American contingent of 650 troops more than doubles last year’s exercise, which included about 300 U.S. soldiers.
In response, the Russian foreign ministry has accused NATO of trying to destabilize the Caucasus region. “We view this consistent 'development' of Georgian territory by NATO soldiers as a provocative move, aiming to deliberately destabilize the military-political situation in the Caucasus region,” the ministry said in a statement.
Russia is mighty displeased at NATO's plans for a joint exercise with Georgia's military, calling it a "provocative move" that will destabilize the region according to Agence France Presse. The exercise, dubbed Noble Partner, kicks off at the Vaziani base in Georgia on Wednesday and will include U.S. and British forces. Russia is wary of Tbilisi growing closer to NATO following its 2008 war with Georgia which saw Russian forces occupy the country's separatist province of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.
Syria's opposition says Russia has created a new military base in the ancient city of Palmyra after a combined Syrian-Russian offensive ousted the Islamic State from the city in late March. The Jerusalem Post reports that the Syrian Revolution Coordinator group posted that Russia now has a base "in the archeological compound of the city." Russia has put Palmyra front and center in its messaging on Syria, sending the Mariinskiy Theatre Orchestra to play a concert in the amphitheater the Islamic State used to stage