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Russia holds military drill near Ukraine to brace up for potential confrontation with West

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
This satellite image released by Maxar Technologies on December 23, 2021, reportedly shows Russian ground forces deployed at the Opuk training area on December 22, 2021. (Photo by AFP)

Russian military forces have staged a military exercise to practice repelling airstrikes by adversaries amid Moscow's worsening standoff with the West.

Interfax news agency cited the country's western military district as saying on Monday that about 1,000 troops took part in the drill.

Russia’s defense ministry said in a statement that exercises for the southern military district forces were held in several areas, including Rostov, Krasnodar and Crimea.

Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops at staging posts close to Ukraine and demanded that its southern neighbor not be admitted to NATO.

The Kremlin has also demanded that no offensive weapons be deployed to Ukraine.

Moscow is concerned that the US-led NATO alliance is pushing for a major military build-up in Ukraine for a potential confrontation with Russia.

The list of ideas being drawn up by the Pentagon, the State Department and the White House “include redirecting helicopters and other military equipment once allocated for the Afghan military to Ukraine,” the New York Times reported Thursday, citing senior administration officials.

The Biden administration is also considering sending “additional cyber warfare experts” to Ukraine, the daily added, noting that the US and the UK have also dispatched “some experts to shore up defenses” in case Russian President Vladimir Putin launches what they allege as “a cyber strike on Ukraine either in advance or instead of a ground invasion.”

But the proposal at the Pentagon for “actionable” intelligence is potentially more significant, the report underlined, citing two US officials that spoke on condition of anonymity, claiming that the information would “include images of whether Russian troops were moving to cross the border. Such information, if shared in time, could enable the Ukrainian military to head off an attack.”

Relations between Ukraine and Russia have gone through declension since 2014, when the then Ukrainian territory of Crimea voted in a referendum to rejoin the Russian Federation. Kiev refused to recognize the referendum results, and later imposed sanctions on Moscow.

Ukraine, along with its Western allies, also claims Russia has a hand in the ongoing conflict that erupted in the Donbass region between Ukrainian government forces and ethnic Russians in 2014. Moscow denies the allegation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has already warned the West and Kiev against crossing the Kremlin's "red lines" over staging military exercises and building up weaponry in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Moscow has ordered some 10,000 servicemen, who had gathered close to the Ukrainian border, to return to their permanent bases.


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