A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman said yesterday that Moscow could not be "indifferent" to a NATO naval exercise hosted this week by Romania and staged in the Black Sea. Although the Russian fleet has not been put on alert status, the spokesman said, its warships will "maintain vigilance" throughout the event. NATO’s "Cooperative Partner 96" exercise — involving some 30 ships from eight NATO nations, as well as from Romania, Ukraine, and Bulgaria — is the largest naval exercise conducted to date under the aegis of the Partnership for Peace program. Russia declined an invitation to participate. (Reuter, July 21; Itar-Tass, July 22)
IMF Delays Latest Loan Payment to Russia.