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  Thursday, September 19, 2019
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Georgia plans to increase the strength of its armed forces
Georgia plans to increase the strength of its armed forces by 5,000 personnel to 37,000 amid growing tensions with Russia over two breakaway provinces, a senior lawmaker said Monday.

Nikolaz Rurua, deputy head of the parliamentary defense committee, said the move was "necessitated by the real threats facing the country."

Relations between Russia and Georgia have plunged to a new low against the backdrop of outbreaks of violence in Abkhazia and South Ossetia, with the two countries trading accusations of provoking violence.

Last week, Russian military aircraft flew over South Ossetia. Moscow said it wanted to monitor the situation due to fears that Georgia would invade the internationally unrecognized but de facto independent republic. Tbilisi called the flights an act of "military aggression" against Georgia and recalled its ambassador from Moscow.

Earlier, Russia sent additional peacekeeping troops into Abkhazia.

"The increase of the Armed Forces' strength will raise their defense capabilities, and this decision is in line with international and NATO standards," Rurua said.

The tiny Caucasus state seeks to be admitted to a NATO Membership Action Plan in December, which paves the way for entry into the military bloc. The ambition has added tension to relations with Moscow.

The legislature is expected to vote on the bill Tuesday.


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