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US, Ukrainian Troops Launch Maneuvers Near Russian Border


Ukrainian troops have joined their U.S. counterparts in NATO military exercises as tensions mount over the aspirations of former Soviet republics to enter the alliance.

The two-week NATO "Sea Breeze" exercises along the Black Sea coast also include forces from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, and key countries of western Europe. Turkey, Macedonia and Latvia are also participating. The exercises include naval and air maneuvers as well as large-scale armored exercises.

Separate maneuvers are being held this week in Georgia. Armenian, Azerbaijani, Ukrainian and U.S. troops are participating.

Small groups of anti-NATO protesters were reported encamped along the Ukrainian coast.

Ukraine and Georgia are actively seeking NATO membership, despite official warnings that Moscow will not tolerate an additional NATO presence on its borders.

Last month, Ukraine's pro-Western leadership hosted a NATO delegation, which was also confronted by several hundred anti-alliance protesters.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and AP.