NATO warships leaving Black Sea: official

September 11th, 2008 - 5:32 am ICT by IANS  

Moscow, Sep 11 (RIA Novosti) NATO Wednesday said that four of its warships were leaving the Black Sea region, near the Russian coast, as part of a previously drawn up plan.The warships had moved to the area on Aug 21, nine days after armed conflict ended between Russia and Georgia, to take part in naval exercises.

Russia expressed concern over the presence of warships in the area, but NATO said the exercises were planned a year ago.

The coalition said in a statement: “The Standing NATO Maritime Group One has successfully completed its planned visit and is leaving the Black Sea today.”

Russia bombed Georgia after the later attacked its breakaway province of South Ossetia Aug 8, to take control of the area.

The five-day conflict ended following a French brokered peace-plan that specified the pulling out of Russian troops from Georgia, among others.

Russia later declared the two breakaway provinces of South Ossetia and Abkhazia of the former Soviet republic as independent countries.

The international community, including the US and Britain, widely condemned the Russian decision.

South Ossetia and Abkhazia unilaterally declared independence from Georgia after the breakdown of Soviet Union in early 1990s, amid bloody conflicts that killed thousands of people.

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