KIEV, July 12 (Xinhua) -- Ukraine and NATO launched the "Sea Breeze" military exercises in Ukraine's Black Sea region on Monday.
The land, naval and air drills, which will last until July 23 and focus on fighting sea piracy, involve around 1,000 troops from Ukraine and 500 more from 12 other countries, including the U.S., Belgium and Germany, Ukraine's Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The land phase of the drills will be held at a military training area in the Nikolayev region in southern Ukraine, while the sea drills will take place in northwestern Black Sea, said the statement.
Such military exercises have been conducted in Ukraine since 1997.
However, last year the Ukrainian parliament refused to approve the drills, and they were canceled in 2006 and 2007 because of anti-NATO protests. But this year the Ukrainian lawmakers voted in favor of the drills.