Russia conducts military drills in Black Sea
Russian naval forces have announced three-day military maneuvers in the Black Sea amid growing tensions between Moscow and Kiev over the Crimean Peninsula.
The Russian Defense Ministry said on Friday that its navy would start to hold exercises in the area to practice repelling underwater attacks by saboteurs.
Russia Black Sea Fleet based in Crimea is taking part in the military exercises. More than 10 warships, MI-8 and Ka-27PS helicopters are participating in the training.
The Kremlin said in a statement on Thursday that President Vladimir Putin held a meeting with his security chiefs to review “additional measures for ensuring security for citizens and essential infrastructure in Crimea.”
“Scenarios were carefully considered for anti-terrorist security measures at the land border, in the waters and in the airspace of Crimea,” the statement read.
Putin talked about Ukraine of attempting armed incursions into the region, allegations denied by Kiev. The Russian president has pledged to take counter-measures against Ukraine
Putin blamed Ukraine for “practicing terror” and said, “This is very alarming news. In fact, our security services prevented an incursion into the territory by a sabotage-reconnaissance group from Ukraine's Defense Ministry.”
Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko also ordered all Ukrainian army units near Crimea and in the easterly Donbass region to stand at the highest level of combat readiness.
“During the drill we are going to practice the issues of both operational and technical support. These include operations to counter underwater sabotage, navigational and hydrographic exercise, search and rescue missions,” said Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy Admiral Viktor Chirkov.
The Russian Federal Security Service said on Wednesday that it had thwarted an incursion by the Ukrainian military into Crimea over the weekend, saying two Russians were killed in the incident.
Ukraine’s defense intelligence rejected Russia’s claim over the incursion, saying it was based on “fake information.”
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered measures to ramp up security in Crimea.
More Background from Katehon:
In addition, the Ukrainian military and punitive battalions have intensified shelling of the civilian neighborhoods of Donbass. A large number of offensive weapons systems have been brought up to the borders of the DPR and LPR, which has been confirmed by OSCE observers.
Furthermore, in the central regions of Ukraine, columns and trains moving military vehicles have been spotted.