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17:21 GMT +3 hours18 December 2014
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Ukraine, NATO start military drills in Poland

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A joint Ukrainian-Polish-British tactical exercise began on Tuesday at the Nova Demba military training grounds in Poland, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said.
KIEV, September 2 (RIA Novosti) - A joint Ukrainian-Polish-British tactical exercise began on Tuesday at the Nova Demba military training grounds in Poland, the Ukrainian Defense Ministry said.

The Cossack Steppe 2008 exercise is part of the NATO Partnership for Peace Program and has been conducted in succession on the territories of the three countries since 1997.

"The current exercises are aimed at practicing stabilization measures in a region controlled by opposing terrorist and extremist forces," the ministry said in a statement.

The exercise involves 50 Ukrainian servicemen from the 79th Airmobile Brigade and will be conducted until September 14. Soldiers from the brigade have served as peacekeepers in Yugoslavia, Iraq, Kosovo, and Sierra Leone.

The stated goal of Ukraine's defense policy has long been to integrate with NATO, a drive that has received strong backing from the United States.

Every year the U.S. Departments of State and Defense allocate about $1-3 million to Ukraine's participation in Partnership for Peace Program through the so-called "Warsaw Initiative," founded by the United States in July 1994. The initiative primarily helps to promote the ability of the Ukraine's armed forces to cooperate with NATO members, as well as to prepare the country for joining NATO.