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STUTTGART, Germany — U.S. troops will soon resume training with their Russian counterparts, ending a nearly yearlong suspension in bilateral military relations prompted by last year’s conflict between Russia and the Republic of Georgia.

Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Nikolai Makarov, Russia’s top military man, signed a new strategic framework on Monday that will kick-start military partnerships between the two countries in the coming months.

“We look forward to U.S.-Russian military interaction that will ensure mutual support in addressing shared interests and challenges,” Lt. Cmdr. Taylor Clark, a U.S. European Command spokesman in Stuttgart, said in a prepared statement.

In the next six months, Russia and the U.S. will take part in nearly 20 military exchanges and training operations, according to the new framework.

Those include strategic discussions between the U.S. joint staff and the Russian general staff and visits by faculty at the Russian Combined Arms Academy to the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Fort Leavenworth, Kan. Russian military cadets also will visit the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.

Military exercises will include a training scenario involving a response to a hijacked aircraft and a naval war game to be conducted by the Kuznetsov Naval Academy and the U.S. Naval War College.

In addition, EUCOM and the Russian Ministry of Defense have agreed to meet and develop a more robust work plan for 2010, according to a White House news release.

The military accord, announced during President Barack Obama’s visit to Moscow, is one aspect in the push to “reset” relations. During Obama’s visit, a deal also was reached on reducing nuclear stockpiles.

But some analysts are cautioning against expectations of big changes in how Russia and the U.S. engage with each other.

“We have a new leader, President Obama, who is ready to adjust some policies from the previous administration. In Moscow we don’t have a new leader. We essentially have the same leadership we had before. And I think it’s very dubious about what interest there is on the Russian side in resetting the relationship,” said Andrew Kuchins from the Center for Strategic and International Studies during a pre-summit media briefing.

Still, before being temporarily derailed by the conflict in Georgia, military-to-military partnerships between Russia and the U.S. had started to blossom.

As Gen. John Craddock, the recently retired EUCOM commander, noted earlier this year, Russia had taken a number of steps that signaled a desire to engage with U.S. forces before ties were suspended.

For starters, Russia had recently begun fully funding their participation in activities with U.S. forces, which Craddock described as a significant change from previous years.

With Monday’s agreement, closer military cooperation appears imminent.

“This new framework will set conditions that raise military cooperation to a new level and deepen mutual understanding between our respective armed forces,” the White House said.

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John covers U.S. military activities across Europe and Africa. Based in Stuttgart, Germany, he previously worked for newspapers in New Jersey, North Carolina and Maryland. He is a graduate of the University of Delaware.
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