The Cooperative Neighbor-97 exercise, held within the framework of NATO’s Partnership for Peace program, is underway at Ukraine’s Yavoriv training ground in Lviv region. Approximately 1,200 soldiers from the U.S., Greece, Moldova, Georgia, and several Central and East European countries have joined Ukrainian troops for the exercise, which is also being attended by observers from NATO countries. Russia is not represented.
The event, paid for mostly by the U.S., began on July 1 with staff exercises and has since July 5 continued with field exercises aimed at testing coordination among national elements of a multinational peacekeeping force. Several defense ministers and deputy ministers attended the opening phase, and U.S. defense secretary William Cohen is scheduled to attend the closing of the exercise on July 14. Ukrainian defense minister Oleksandr Kuzmuk described the exercise as reflecting "Ukraine’s strategic course toward further integration in European and transatlantic institutions." The maneuvers at Yavoriv will be followed by a U.S.-Ukrainian special forces exercise near Uzhorod later this month, then the NATO-sponsored Sea Breeze-97 naval exercise scheduled for August in Crimea, and finally a British-Polish-Ukrainian paratroop exercise near Mikolayiv in September. (Ukrainian agencies, July 6-7)
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