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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Naval Exercises End

SEVASTOPOL, Ukraine -- Russia's Black Sea Fleet on Wednesday completed naval exercises that involved more than 20 combat vessels, as well as aircraft and marines.

The timing of the exercises, which began 10 days ago, raised speculation that they were part of Russia's angry reaction to NATO's air raids on Yugoslavia.

Officials of the fleet, based in the Ukrainian Crimean port of Sevastopol, have stressed that the maneuvers had been planned beforehand and were not related to the Kosovo conflict.

But fleet commander Admiral Vladimir Komoyedov noted in an appeal to fleet personnel earlier this week that their responsibility for securing the safety of southern Russia becomes even more serious in view of the Balkan crisis.