Traffic on several main Georgian roads is restricted on Sunday, as heavy military equipment is transported from the Georgian Black Sea Port of Poti to the Vaziani Military base close to Tbilisi at the start of exercise Nobel Partner 2020. Approximately 2,800 soldiers from France, Georgia, Poland, the United Kingdom and the United States will participate in exercise Noble Partner 2020 being held in Georgia from 7 - 18 September.
Stryker armoured fighting vehicles, Humvee utility vehicles, artillery pieces and logistical support trucks were unloaded from the Ocean Freedom dry cargo ship at the Poti port starting in the night of Thursday to Friday (3-4 September).
The American hardware was then moved under a convoy to the Georgian Defence Forces' 2nd Infantry Brigade base in Senaki in the west of the country. The vehicles will leave the base in two phases on Sunday and Tuesday and be moved to the GDF 4th Mechanised Brigade base in Vaziani, which will host the drills. Traffic restrictions are in place on a number of major roads from Sunday to Tuesday whilst the military equipment is being transported.
Announcing the restrictions the Georgian authorities said that 9 military convoys equipped with American military equipment will travel on the Tbilisi-Senaki-Leselidze highway at one and a half hour intervals, due to which the traffic from Senaki to Tbilisi (Vaziani) will be carried out at low speed on September 6 and 8, from 04:00 to 12:00, and 7 September from 4:00 a.m. to about 5 p.m.
As a precaution, due to the coronavirus pandemic, all equipment was disinfected once it arrived in Georgia. A US military spokesperson said that in agreement with the Georgian government, as a consequence of the pandemic, the number of personnel participating in the exercise was reduced as a precautionary measure.
Source: commonspace.eu with agencies
photo: US military equipment after being unloaded at Poti Port on 4 September, ahead of exercise Nobel Partner 2020. (Screengrab from Georgian Ministry of Defence Video/Agenda.ge)
They warn about the risk of destabilisation throughout the Caucasus and of a new humanitarian crisis.