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Russian Team Studies South Korean Sinking

APRussians arriving Monday at the Defense Ministry in Seoul to review an investigation into the sinking of a warship.

SEOUL, South Korea — Russian experts arrived in Seoul on Monday to review findings of an investigation that blamed North Korea for the deadly sinking of a South Korean warship, while thousands of troops practiced fending off an attack from the North near the rivals' tense border.

The South is trying to build support for UN action against the North. If Russia endorses the multinational probe's conclusions, the move could convince China and other major powers to back possible sanctions against Pyongyang for the attack on the Cheonan warship, which killed 46 sailors two months ago.

North Korea has denied sinking the ship and has said the multinational investigation — involving the United States, Britain, Sweden and Australia — was a biased probe conducted by South Korea's allies.

The Russian team — including torpedo and submarine experts — arrived Monday and were to stay in South Korea for several days as they review the investigation results and examine the ship's wreckage, the South Korean Defense Ministry said.

The ministry declined to provide further details, citing Russia's request not to publicize many of the team's activities.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Kim Young-sun told reporters, "We are expecting to see a frank and deep exchange of views between our group of experts about our investigation results."

Russia's ambassador in Seoul, Konstantin Vnukov, told a forum Friday that Moscow would determine its position on the UN action on North Korea after the experts study the probe results, according to the YTN television network.

Amid the simmering tensions, a few thousand South Korean soldiers joined an exercise in building and defending a pontoon bridge near the border with North Korea. About 50 tanks and several helicopters were mobilized for the drill.

The routine exercise was planned long ago and was not related to the Cheonan incident, an army spokesman said on condition of anonymity, citing department policy.

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