Russia-NATO naval exercise cancelled

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Moscow, Aug 14 (UNI) A Russia-NATO naval exercise in the Sea of Japan has been cancelled after the United States and Britain refused to send their warships, a spokesman for Russia's Pacific Fleet told RIA Novosti news agency today.

Russia's Marshal Shaposhnikov ASW ship, the French Vendemiaire light monitoring frigate, the US McCampbell Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyer, and the HMS Kent Type 23 Duke class frigate were to take part in the FRUKUS exercise off the Russian coast from August 15-23.

A Pentagon official earlier said the US would stay away from the naval exercise over the South Ossetia-Georgia conflict.

Washington and London have been critical of Moscow's actions during the conflict, which started on August 8 when Georgia attacked Tskhinvali, the capital of breakaway South Ossetia.

During the subsequent counter operation to expel Georgian troops from the de facto independent republic and to reinforce Russian peacekeepers, Moscow sent some 10,000 troops and several hundred armoured vehicles into the area.

Previously the socalled RUKUS exercises were launched in 1988 as a vehicle for dialogue between the Soviet Union, the United States and Britian. They involve training scenarios both at sea and ashore.

France formally joined the group in 2003, and the name of the exercises was changed to FRUKUS.

The exercises typically involve around 1,000 personnel from the four countries.

FRUKUS-2007 was held in the North Atlantic with the participation of the Admiral Chabanenko, a guided-missile destroyer from Russia's Northern Fleet.

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