ATHENS — Russia has launched its first military exercise in Greece, regarded as the closest NATO member to Moscow.
Greece's military said the Russian Navy began an exercise in the Aegean
Sea and within Greece. The military said the air and naval exercise, the
first by Russia in the NATO ally, began on Jan. 3 and would end eight days
"The exercises will take place on Jan. 3 and 4 and on Jan. 8 and 10
southeast of the island of Rhodes, and on Jan. 11 south of Crete," the Greek
General Staff said.
In a Jan. 3 statement, the Greek military said the Russian Navy's
Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier would lead the exercise. The statement
said the naval maneuvers would be conducted in international waters, but
Russian combat aircraft would fly in Greek air space.
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This was the first time Greece has agreed to host a Russian exercise.
Athens has been regarded as close to Moscow, which has
sold air defense, armored vehicles and other military systems to Greece.
The Greek Defense Ministry said Russia has sent its Su-25 and Su-30
fighter-jets for the air maneuvers. The ministry said Russia also
contributed the Ka-50-2 attack helicopter to the exercise.
Over the last year, the Russian military has expanded its presence to
the Mediterranean Sea. The navy has been conducting maneuvers with such
allies as Algeria, Libya and Syria.