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MOSCOW (Sputnik) — The Sea Shield 2017 maritime drills with the participation of seven NATO member states and Ukraine kicked off in the Black Sea last week. The drills take place on the territory of 80,000 square kilometers (49,700 square miles). Approximately 2,800 personnel from Romania, Bulgaria, Greece, Turkey, the United States, Canada, Spain and Ukraine, 16 warships and 10 warplanes will participate in the 10-day exercises.
"Regarding NATO's activities… here our Western colleagues prefer to deal with virtual and generally non-existent threats," Zakharova told reporters.
NATO has been increasing its military presence in Eastern Europe and the Black Sea since the outbreak of the conflict in southeastern Ukraine in April 2014, in response to what it considers to be Russia's aggressive foreign policy. Moscow has repeatedly dismissed the Ukraine-related accusations leveled at it, warning that increased NATO activities near the country's borders could undermine regional and global stability.
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