Hundreds of soldiers and disaster relief teams from Ukraine, the United States and 10 other countries deployed field hospitals, rescue equipment and armored vehicles Thursday in Ukraine for the final phase of a NATO-sponsored anti-terrorism exercise.
The four-day drill in western Ukraine was expected to conclude with a mock terrorist attack on a chemical facility, gun battles with terrorists and rescue operations.
Hosting the Joint Assistance 2005 maneuvers is Ukraine's latest effort in its bid to join NATO. The alliance has said its door remain open to this ex-Soviet republic, which shifted to a pro-Western course after last year's Orange Revolution.
Several high-ranking NATO and Ukrainian defense and security officials were on hand to monitor the exercises taking place near Ukraine's border with NATO-member Poland. The NATO-led Department for Emergency Situations and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons were among the 1,000 personnel including 250 Ukrainians participating.
In addition to the 12 participating nations, some 30 countries sent observers.
NATO has stepped up cooperation with Ukraine, but has refused to speculate when this nation of 47 million could be considered ready for membership. NATO says Kiev still has to prove its democratic credentials, fight corruption and modernize its bloated military, reports the AP.
Chinese President Xi Jinping warned his new US counterpart Joe Biden not to push Europe into an alliance against Beijing