Russia has notified NATO of the delay of the May 7 meeting of the Russia-NATO Council on the level of chiefs of staff because of NATO-led exercises in Georgia, alliance spokesperson Carmen Romero said on Tuesday.

In her words, the notification was given by Russian delegation head Gen. Alexei Maslov at the meeting of Russian and NATO military representatives.

Romero said that NATO reserved the possibility of a meeting of the chiefs of staff in case Russia changed its decision. At the same time, the alliance does not object to the wish of Russia to resume political contacts prior to the resumption of military contacts.

The NATO-led Cooperate Lancer/Cooperative Longbow 2009 exercises planned in Georgia for May 6 – June 3 will be held in accordance with the schedule, Georgian Defense Minister David Sikharulidze said earlier in the day.

“The exercises were planned a year ago, and neither Georgia nor NATO would change their plans,” he said. “The exercises contribute to the Euro-Atlantic integration of Georgia and improve the compatibility of the Georgian armed forces with NATO standards.”

The exercises, which are part of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, “target for cooperation in the reaction to crises and in peacekeeping operations,” the minister said. Heavy military hardware will not be involved in the drill.

Cooperative Lancer 2009 envisages the study of NATO staff skills and procedures and a higher compatibility of multinational brigades in crisis management. This drill will take place on May 6-19. Cooperative Longbow 2009 will prepare battalions for peacekeeping operations on May 21 – June 3.

Some 1,300 servicemen from 19 countries, including 1,089 foreigners and 214 Georgian servicemen will take part in the exercises at the Vaziani base of the Georgian Defense Ministry near Tbilisi.