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Russia asks NATO to refrain from exercises during V-Day ceremonies

MOSCOW, March 23. /TASS/. Russia has addressed NATO with a call for refraining from military exercises during the celebrations timed for the 75th anniversary of the victory in the Great Patriotic War, Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko told the media in the wake of the cancellation of the European exercise Defender 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

"We’ve addressed the European countries with a call for refraining from active exercises during this period," he said.

Grushko stressed that amid the coronavirus pandemic all instruments of international cooperation, including contacts among military officials were crucial. "The current situation illustrates the absolute foolishness (I cannot think of another word) of NATO’s decisions and other decisions that were made in the United States to sever all contacts [with Russia] in the military sphere. Today we can see life put everything in its proper place," he said.

NATO’s Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg on March 19 said that NATO had revised its whole program for exercises in the light of the coronavirus pandemic. He also confirmed termination at the early phase of the United States’ exercise in Europe Defender 2020, which was to become the largest strategic exercise ever since the end of the Cold War.

An outbreak of the novel coronavirus-related disease in central China late last year has spread to more than 150 countries. The World Health Organization has declared a pandemic. According to the latest statistics, more than 320,000 people have contracted the virus around the world. The disease has claimed 14,000 lives.