U.S., Ukraine to join international military drill in Bulgaria

March 20, 2014

SOFIA (Reuters) - U.S. and Ukrainian troops will take part in military drills with about 700 soldiers from 10 other countries at a shooting range in central Bulgaria, the Defence Ministry said on Thursday.

The two-week military exercise at the Novo Selo training facility starts on Friday. It was planned before the standoff between the West and Moscow over Russia's annexation of Crimea, defence officials said.

It follows joint exercises by U.S., Romanian and Bulgarian naval forces in the Black Sea that aimed to show U.S. resolve to support NATO allies.

The Saber Guardian exercise, which will have command staff from different countries working together, will largely see work carried out inside tents and on computers rather than in the field, U.S. Army Europe spokesman Jesse Granger said.

"This is one of many exercises and events we put on throughout the year as part of our commitment to engaging with our partners over here (in Europe) and enhancing regional stability," Granger said.

The drills will include soldiers from Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Bulgaria, Georgia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Serbia and Turkey as well as representatives from NATO.

(Reporting By Tsvetelia Tsolova in Sofia and Adrian Croft in Brussels; Editing by Janet Lawrence)