The U.S. State Department on Monday said the Sea Breeze 2011 naval exercises, which have been decried by Russia, were a sign of close cooperation with Ukraine.

Russia's Foreign Ministry voiced concerns on Sunday over the entry of the U.S. Monterey guided missile cruiser, equipped with the Aegis air defense system, into the Black Sea for naval exercises with Ukraine.

"They [Russians] are entitled to their opinion. I'm not going to parse the words of the Russian Foreign Ministry, and I'll have to get more details about this exercise," deputy State Department spokesman Mark Toner said when asked to comment on Russia's reaction.

"But we have a strong bilateral relationship with Ukraine, and it's in keeping with that kind of partnership that these exercises take place," he said, RIA Novosti reported.

Russia has said on many occasions that it will perceive the appearance of U.S. strategic infrastructure elements close to its borders as a threat to its security.

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