American Marines take part in military exercise in Ukraine

1,200 U.S. Marines and naval personnel will participate in a multinational military exercise in the Ukraine's Black Sea region and Crimean peninsula to improve cooperation among troops from several countries.

The U.S. troops deployment begins Wednesday and will include two ships, the USS Mahan and USS Nashville, and an unspecified number of aircraft that an Embassy statement said are a part of the U.S. Navy's global anti-terror effort.

The exercise, dubbed Peace Shield 2005, began last month in Kiev with a computer-simulated war game in which staff officers from 22 countries practiced a peacekeeping operation based on the current situation in Iraq.

The second stage of the exercise, which runs until mid-August, "will include ... maritime interception operations, damage control techniques, small boat operations, communication and navigation procedures," the statement said.

Ukraine's Defense Ministry said that in addition to Ukraine and the United States, the armed forces of Bulgaria, Georgia, Romania and Turkey were participating in Peace Shield 2005.

Ukrainian troops are serving in peacekeeping missions in Kosovo, Lebanon, Georgia, Congo, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Liberia and Moldova. Ukraine is withdrawing its 1,650-strong contingent from Iraq, where it served as part of the U.S.-led coalition.

Ukraine's navy also said recently it will send a ship to a NATO-led anti-terrorist force that patrols the Mediterranean, the AP reports.

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