US-led war games wrap up in Ukraine: EUCOM

BERLIN (AFP)–The United States European command said Monday it had wrapped up multinational military exercises in ex-Soviet Ukraine, which had faced protests and complaints from Moscow.

Exercise Sea Breeze 2008 involved more than 2,000 service members from 16 countries and was held in the Black Sea and at land-based Ukrainian training facilities, according to EUCOM.

In addition to US troops, the exercise included forces from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Britain, Canada, Denmark, France, Georgia, Germany, Greece, Latvia, Macedonia, Norway, Romania and Turkey.

"Everyone participating in this exercise should be very proud of the level of interoperability and cooperation that was achieved among the sea, air and land components as well as among nations," US Navy Captain John Moore, the Sea Breeze deputy commander, said in a statement.

Russia’s foreign ministry had said at the start of the exercise however that it saw it as a threat.

"The nature of the exercises, the attempts to present them as anti-Russian and the participation of states from outside the region inevitably raise questions and some degree of concern," it said.

Dozens of Ukrainian protesters scuffled with police July 14 as they attempted to surround a hall hosting the launch of the war games in Ukraine’s Black Sea port of Odessa.

A EUCOM spokesman’said the exercise was not NATO-affiliated although it included several members of the alliance.

Tensions between the United States and Russia have mounted over Washington’s support for countries such as Ukraine and fellow ex-Soviet republic Georgia to join NATO. Moscow fiercely opposes such a move.

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