Russian Defense Minister Sergei Ivanov on Friday accused some new NATO members of illicit arms sales to Georgia, which was embroiled in a fresh dispute with Russia over alleged espionage.
"Some younger members of NATO" were supplying Georgia with arms and ammunition of Soviet production, which is in breach of international arms trade accords, Ivanov told a news conference after the NATO-Russia Council meeting in the Slovenian coastal resort of Portoroz.
Ivanov preferred not to name the countries, but he was referring to some of the seven eastern European countries that joined NATO in 2004. The new NATO members are Bulgaria, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia.
Ivanov, who is also Russia's deputy prime minister, said that Soviet arms exports to the region were made under the strict understanding that the buyers had no right to sell-on to third parties.
"It means these countries are breaching world practice," he said.
Moscow and Tbilisi, whose relations have been tense in the last few years, became embroiled in a new dispute after Georgia arrested several Russian servicemen on Wednesday for alleged espionage.
Addressing the press, Ivanov also accused Georgia of wanting to expel Russian peacekeepers by force, resolve the conflicts in the breakaway regions of Abkhazia and South Ossetia with the use of military pressure and then apply for NATO membership.