NATO Military Committee chairman urges Russia to withdraw troops from Georgia's occupied territories

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach speaks at the meeting of NATO Military Committee in Tbilisi, where he is flanked by Levan Izoria, the Minister of Defence of Georgia. Photo: Ministry of Defence of Georgia's press office., 27 Mar 2019 - 19:12, Tbilisi,Georgia

The Chairman of the NATO Military Committee has urged Russia to withdraw its troops from Georgia's occupied regions of Tskhinvali (South Ossetia) and Abkhazia, as the committee opened its meeting in Tbilisi earlier today.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach spoke at the meeting of the body that advises NATO on military matters, as he was joined by Minister of Defence of Georgia Levan Izoria and high-ranking officials and military commanders at the event.

Peach said the visit of the committee was a demonstration of support for Georgia and its territorial integrity, as the two regions are under occupation by the Russian military.

The visiting commander also acknowledged Georgia's contributions to the ongoing NATO effort in Afghanistan, noting "professionalism" and "dedication" of peacekeepers from the country in the Resolute Support mission.

Air Chief Marshal Sir Stuart Peach and the NATO Military Committee arrive in Tbilisi:

In his address, Izoria said Georgia was "the only South Caucasus country" with aspirations to join NATO that enjoyed a cooperation with the alliance that was "close" and "unique" in scale.

Regional security issues, including political and military circumstances in Black Sea, are being discussed by visiting NATO officials spanning over two days.

Topics concerning Tskhinvali and Abkhazia are also on the agenda, while Peach and his team are presented information on ongoing defence reforms and collaborative NATO-Georgia projects in the country.

Chief of Defence Forces of Georgia Major General Vladimer Chachibaia (left) welcomes NATO Military Committee Chairman Peach at the Tbilisi International Airport. Photo: Ministry of Defence of Georgia's press office.

The Military Committee's plans include a visit to the Vaziani Training Area and its Combat Training Centre, in addition to learning about the Georgia Defence Readiness Programme run in partnership with United States.

Further visits fature a trip to the Joint Training and Evaluation Centre and observation of the ongoing NATO-Georgia Exercise, involving hundreds of troops from the alliance's member and partner states between March 18-29.

The Military Committee of NATO is "primary source of military advice to the North Atlantic Council and the Nuclear Planning Group", giving advice on strategic direction and measures for common defence of the organisation.