'Isolated' mutiny under control as NATO exercises begin
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The Pentagon has played down a mutiny by a Georgian tank battalion, saying it was an "isolated incident". NATO begins month-long exercises in Georgia Wednesday involving soldiers from a dozen NATO countries.
AFP - A military mutiny in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia appears to be "a somewhat isolated incident," a Pentagon spokesman said Tuesday, playing down an incident that drew Georgian accusations of Russian involvement.
Georgia said the mutiny by a tank battalion on the eve of NATO exercises was backed by Russia, a charge Moscow's envoy to NATO called "insane."
"It looks like it was a somewhat isolated incident that has now come to an end," said Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman, adding that he had no information about Russian involvement.
"This is a situation that just occurred and we are still assessing the situation. It doesn't change our long-term relationship with Georgia," he said.
A State Department spokesman meanwhile said there was, as yet, scant information about the disturbance.
"Of course we're troubled by any instability or potential instability in the region," said spokesman Robert Wood.
"But I have no way of knowing, you know, who was behind this or anything. I just don't have those details at this point," he said.
He added: "What I can say is that we're in close contact with the Georgian authorities. And we call on all parties to respect the constitutional order in Georgia and democratic processes."
The mutiny by a tank battalion at the Murkhrovani base just outside the Georgian capital ended peacefully after President Mikheil Saakashvili and his interior minister arrived at the base, Georgian officials said.
Defense Minister David Sikharulidze said the "rebellion" was aimed at "disrupting NATO exercises and overturning the authorities militarily."
The interior ministry said it had uncovered a plot for an "armed uprising" among defense ministry units and that Russia was involved.
NATO was scheduled to begin month-long exercises in Georgia Wednesday involving more than 1,100 soldiers from more than a dozen NATO countries.
Georgia and Russia fought the five-day war last year over South Ossetia, a breakaway region of Georgia.
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