Russia says it will join drills with NATO member ships for first time in decade

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Russia said on Thursday it would take part in drills involving more than 30 countries off the coast of Pakistan, in rare joint exercises with Russian and NATO member ships.

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The AMAN-2021 anti-piracy drills are set to be held in waters near Karachi in February 2021 and will involve British, US, Turkish, Chinese, Japanese and other forces, the Russian defense ministry said in a statement.

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The ministry said Russian and NATO vessels last took part in drills together at the NATO-led Bold Monarch exercises in 2011 off the coast of Spain, the TASS news agency reported.

A NATO official said that the 30-member military bloc had no plans currently to take part in exercises with Russia, but that the participation of individual nations was up to them to decide.

“Our practical cooperation remains suspended as a consequence of Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea from Ukraine in 2014,” the NATO official said.

Ties between Russia and the West are languishing at post-Cold War lows, strained by everything from the annexation of Crimea to allegations of hacking US elections and Syria.

In September chief of the Russian army’s General Staff Valery Gerasimov accused NATO of increasing its military presence at the Russian border.

In a report published earlier this month, NATO said that Russia will likely remain its main threat in the coming decade.

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