The U.S. Army’s 1st Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division loaded equipment and vehicles onto ferries in Varna, Bulgaria.

A  delegation of U.S. officers including General Ben Hodges, visited Batumi, Georgia to meet and greet with local and national Georgian officals. “We are here to look at the port in Batumi to understand what is required to move equipment, how fast we can move equipment. So this is part of professional soldiers studying the logistics. But we also came here to demonstrate to Georgia… that we are committed to work with Georgia, to continue work improving interoperability,” Hodges said, as reported by Georgia’s Ministry of Defense.

“In NATO and the U.S. they understand that to get back influence on the Black Sea they need to strengthen naval infrastructure, naval forces, coastal lines of those countries that are members of the bloc or are striving to enter,” said Irakli Aladashvili, the editor of Georgian military magazine Arsenali, in an interview with RFE/RL.

Russia has criticized upcoming joint military exercises involving the United States and Georgia.

Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on May 6 that the military drills were a provocative step that could destabilize the Caucasus region.

Russia and Georgia fought a brief war in 2008 and Russia backs the breakaway regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia on the Russian-Georgian border.

The training exercises, dubbed Noble Partner 2016, are due to take place in Georgia from May 11 to May 26.

Tbilisi says a total of 1,300 troops will take part in the exercises — including 650 troops from the U.S. European Command, 650 Georgian troops, and 150 British soldiers.