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Russia Invites U.S. To A 'Tank Biathlon'

Russia has invited the U.S. to participate in a tank biathlon so that both nations may learn to play nice — with heavy artillery.

The invitation was apparently extended while Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel met with their Russian counterparts Sergei Lavrov and Sergei Shoigu in Washington on Friday. The "two-on-two" talks were intended to relieve some of the tension between the two countries, so the suggestion of a little friendly competition — under fire — wasn't out of place.

Defense Minister Shoigu repeated the invitation during a Friday press conference, and according to Russia's RIA Novosti news service, Shoigu says the U.S. agreed.

"'We've invited our American colleagues to participate ... and our invitation was accepted by US Secretary of Defense [Chuck] Hagel,' Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Saturday."

NPR can't confirm this — calls to the Department of Defense went unanswered Saturday — but if such an event does take place, Shoigu says it'll be sometime next year.

Russia might have the advantage, however; ITAR-TASS reports Russia has already hosted at least two tank biathlons. Another, the championship, is planned next week.

As to what exactly happens in a tank biathlon, think of a regular biathlon — then forget about it:

"In the tank biathlon, every tank runs almost 20 kilometres at a maximum possible speed, while firing from all weapons the targets, which are rising in different directions and distances. On the course, a tank has to pass repeatedly a ford, fences, a rut bridge, high-speed sections and overtaking passages. At all the times, the crew remains constantly in the firing position."

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