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Ukrainian officers join NATO drills in Bulgaria

NOVO SELO, Bulgaria (AP) -- Ukraine has dispatched 16 senior officers across the Black Sea to Bulgaria to join a NATO military exercise in a demonstration of cooperation between the alliance and the crisis-torn former Soviet republic.

Organizers said Thursday that the drills, dubbed Saber Guardian, involve over 700 troops from 13 NATO member and partner nations, as well as representatives from NATO.

Although planned in 2013, the exercise is coinciding with an East-West standoff over Russia's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine. The exercises are being held just few hundred miles away from the contested Black Sea peninsula.

Maj. Gen. Richard Longo, deputy commander of the U.S. Army in Europe, said “our peaceful, humanitarian-focused exercise will help bring stability to this geopolitically significant part of the world.”

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