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Soviet Navy launches big games off Norway

The Soviet Union is conducting its largest-ever naval exercise, backed by air power, in strategic waters off Norway and in the North Sea, NATO countries reported Tuesday.

A NATO statement issued here said the main thrust of the massive exercise seemed to be antisubmarine warfare. It was estimated there were more than 20 Soviet submarines taking part. Ships and patrol planes from the United States, Britain, the Netherlands, West Germany, Norway, and Denmark were maintaining constant surveillance of the maneuvers, the statement said.

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Officials said the speed of the Soviet buildup appeared to have surprised Western intelligence. Military analysts in London said the operation could have been timed to follow directly on NATO's largest naval maneuvers to date, which ended off Norway last month.

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