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Ukraine, US stage live-fire joint war games

7 September 2015 16:32

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US troopers have held joint live-fire military exercises with Ukrainian soldiers in western Ukraine.

Nearly 300 American and 900 Ukrainian soldiers participated in the Sunday drills held in the town of Yavoriv near the Ukraine-Poland border.

The exercises, part of a series of drills dubbed “Operation Fearless Guardian,” are seen as the first long-term US training program for Ukrainian forces.

“Today, we have observed the NGU (Ukrainian National Guard) conducting platoon attack under live-fire conditions. They integrated mortars and machine guns; they set the conditions before they moved,” US Army paratrooper Lieutenant Colonel Michael Kloepper, who monitored the maneuver, said.

Moscow, which has been critical of the growing NATO and US military activities in Eastern Europe, has said the drills pose a threat to the peace process in Ukraine.

The Moscow-West relations sharply strained after Crimea split from Ukraine and reunified with Russia following a referendum in March 2014. Relations soured further after Ukraine launched military operations in April 2014 to silence pro-Russia protests in the country’s mainly Russian-speaking regions of Donetsk and Luhansk in eastern Ukraine.

Kiev and its Western allies accuse the Kremlin of meddling in Ukraine’s internal affairs and backing the pro-Russia forces in eastern Ukraine. Moscow, however, has strongly denied such allegations.

According to the latest figures released by the United Nations, the crisis in Ukraine has left some 7,000 people dead and 16,000 others injured.

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