WASHINGTON, September 2 (RIA Novosti) – Despite the ongoing hostilities in southeastern Ukraine, the United States plans to go ahead with the Rapid Trident military exercise, scheduled to take place in western Ukraine later this month and expected to involve up to 1,000 servicemen from NATO countries and other US allies, Reuters reported Tuesday.
"At the moment, we are still planning for [the exercise] to go ahead," the agency quoted US Navy Captain Gregory Hicks, a spokesman for the US Army's European Command, as saying.
The annual exercise was initially scheduled to take place in July, at the Yavoriv training center near Ukraine's border with Poland, but was put off until September 16-26 due to the Kiev government’s ongoing military operation against independence supporters in southeastern Ukraine.
The operation was launched in mid-April and has left about 2,500 killed and 6,000 injured, according to the latest UN figures.
NATO has been strengthening its military presence in Eastern Europe following the escalation of the Ukrainian crisis in spring.
The alliances’ plans on the improvement and modernization of NATO’s response forces have raised concerns in Russia which has criticized NATO’s actions, arguing they lead to greater instability in the region.