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Georgia to build second NATO-standard military base

RIA Novosti

26/05/2006 14:44

TBILISI, May 26 (RIA Novosti) - Georgia will construct a NATO-standard military base in the east of the country within a year, Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili said Friday.

The country's defense ministry said the new base, at Gori, would be home to the ministry's first brigade, which was trained for fighting in Iraq.

The base at Gori, like the recently opened base at Senakskaya, in west Georgia, will comply with NATO regulations in terms of military requirements as well as social conditions.

Georgia and Ukraine have recently been actively seeking to join NATO, a sensitive issue for Russia as some officials said Russia would need to spend considerable sums on reorienting its military capabilities to counter the move.

Following the break-up of the Soviet Union, two Russian military bases remained in Georgia but Russia is currently in the process of withdrawing its troops from them.

Under an agreement signed by Russia and Georgia March 31, Russian troops will leave Russia's two Soviet-era military bases in Georgia - at Akhalkalaki and Batumi - by 2008.

The pullout from Akhalkalaki, about 30 kilometers (19 miles) from the border with NATO-member Turkey started May 15, when the first train with Russian military hardware left a railway station in Tsalka, 100 kilometers (62 miles) east of the base, for Russia via Azerbaijan.

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