Georgian and Ukrainian troops have taken a step toward readiness for NATO membership with military training that wrapped up Sunday as part of month-long exercises that have angered Russia.
NATO is training soldiers from the ex-Soviet states and two other aspiring alliance members at a breezy hilltop base just a few dozen kilometers (miles) from where Russian forces battled Georgian troops nine months ago.
Russia adamantly opposes NATO membership for Georgia and Ukraine. Tension over Georgia's NATO aspirations was a catalyst of the August war in a pro-Russian breakaway region in Georgia. Moscow has criticized NATO over the exercises, which officially end Wednesday and are seen as a sign of NATO support for Georgia.