Russia has launched its large-scale military exercises in the North Caucasus, which will last until July 6. According to the Russian defence ministry the military manoeuvres will involve approximately 8,500 personnel, up to 200 battle tanks, 450 armoured vehicles and 250 artillery systems of various types. General Vladimir Boldyrev, commander of Russia's land forces, has announced that the Russian troops deployed in South Ossetia and Abkhazia will also take part in the exercises.
Georgia's deputy foreign minister, Davit Jalagania, has protested about the holding of the exercises, saying that "against the background of the explosive situation 'they] will only contribute to further tensions."
Meanwhile, the OSCE mission in Georgia has today wrapped up its operations there - seventeen years after it was established with an initial mandate to facilitate settlement of the South Ossetian conflict, Civil Georgia reports.
On June 16, following Russia's veto, UNOMIG also ceased its activities in Georgia, including the occupied region of Abkhazia.