Russia assails NATO's plan to forge closer ties with Georgia

Russia's Foreign Ministry on Friday strongly criticized NATO's decision to deepen its cooperation with Georgia, saying the move could upset fragile stability in the Caucasus and hurt Russia's interests.

Russia's defense minister said the country would deploy two brigades along the border with Georgia, Russian news agencies said Friday. Russian officials have talked about the deployment for months.

NATO ministers meeting on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly on Thursday endorsed the so called Intensified Dialogue with Georgia aimed at forging closer ties between the alliance and the ex-Soviet nation. The 26-nation alliance backs Georgia's economic reforms and supports its efforts to resolve conflicts in its provinces of Abkhazia and South Ossetia, NATO Secretary-General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said Thursda, reports AP.

Russia's Foreign Ministry responded in a statement Friday, denouncing the move as a throwback to the Cold War times. "New security risks and challenges require other modes of international cooperation than the expansion of military-political alliances created during the Cold War times," it said.

Ties between Russia and Georgia have continuously worsened since Georgian President Mikhail Saakashvili was elected following the 2003 Rose Revolution that ousted his predecessor, Eduard Shevardnadze. Saakashvili has sought to take Georgia out of Russia's orbit and forge closer ties with the United States and other Western nations. He made plans to join NATO in 2008 a policy that vexed Moscow.

The Russian Foreign Ministry said Friday that Georgia's entry into NATO would "seriously affect political, military and economic interests of Russia and have a negative impact on a fragile situation in the Caucasus."

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