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    Russia Expresses Concern Over NATO Expanded Nuclear-Capable Pilot Training

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    NATO expansion of its pilot training programs, which now train pilots from non-nuclear countries, such as Poland, to operate nuclear-capable aircraft has raised concerns by Russian Defense Ministry.

    MOSCOW, December 24 (Sputnik) — The Russian Defense Ministry is concerned by the North-Atlantic Treaty Organization's (NATO) expansion of its pilot training programs, which now train pilots from non-nuclear countries, such as Poland, to operate nuclear-capable aircraft.

    "Of particular concern is the ongoing training of aircraft crews capable of using nuclear weapons by non-nuclear NATO members-states and the involvement of new countries, such as Poland," Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said on Wednesday at a Rossiya Segodnya briefing in Moscow.

    According to Antonov, the lack of communication between NATO and Russian military departments will not help in repairing trust and increasing security but rather "gives rise to misunderstanding and suspicion."

    "Military cooperation with the United States has been scaled back. Dialogue on missile defense, which left at least some window of opportunity to find compromise solutions, has been discontinued," the deputy minister added.

    Speaking at the briefing, Antonov reiterated Russia's continued compliance with the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) with the United States, which he described as a "golden standard" in global security agreements.

    Tensions have flared between the US-led North-Atlantic Treaty Organization and Russia over the alliance's growing military presence near Russia's western border. In April, NATO ceased all practical cooperation with Russia following Crimea's reunification with Russia in March, limiting contact to top-level officials.

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