As part of a dramatic reconsideration on the bilateral relationship between the US and Georgia, the US Department of Defence announced on 5 July 2024, that it would indefinitely postpone Exercise Noble Partner, following Georgian Prime Minister Irakli Kobakhidze’s allegations that the US is pressuring Georgia to open a second front against Ukraine, and that the US had participated in two coup attempts against the ruling party of Georgia. 

The US Government has denied the allegations and cites the dispute as the motivating factor for postponing Exercise Noble Partner. 

In statements to the state public broadcaster on 7 July, Georgian President Salome Zourabichvili, the ceremonial head of state for the nation and political opponent of Kobakhidze, described the postponement as a threat to Georgia’s defence capability.

Exercise Noble Partner is a cooperative exercise between Georgia, the US Army Europe and Africa. The exercise in 2022 involved 2,400 military members from the US and 19 other nations, involving situational training exercises, live-fire exercises and combined mechanised manoeuvres, with a significant contribution from combat aviation forces. 

A May 3 tweet from Prime Minister Kobakhidze claimed that he had spoken to the Counsellor of the US State Department and “expressed my sincere disappointment with the two revolution attempts of 2020-2023 supported by the former US Ambassador and those carried out through NGOs financed from external sources.” 

The allegations by Kobakhidze arose during a political crisis for his government, as widespread public protests sought to prevent the passing into law of a bill designed to drive sanctions down on civil-society organisation that receive foreign funding. 

In January Kobakhidze spoke of attempts to pressure Georgia to open second front against Russia in a bid to alleviate pressure on Ukraine, again directly contradicted by the US Government. Kobakhidze described the pressure as stemming from “global war party”. 

In June, Ukrainian lawmakers have accused Georgia as acting as vehicle for Russian people and companies to bypass sanctions, placed against Russia as a response to its illegal full-scale invasion of Ukraine in 2022. Georgia has denied these claims, but the ruling party has suffered severe criticism for introducing policies that are seen as influenced by Russia.