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2 US Navy ships to sail Black Sea amid Russian troop buildup near Ukraine


MOSCOW — Russia’s defense minister said Tuesday that the country’s massive military buildup in the west was part of readiness drills amid what he described as threats from NATO.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said the maneuvers in western Russia that have worried neighboring Ukraine and brought warnings from NATO would last for another two weeks.

Speaking at a meeting with the top military brass, Shoigu said the ongoing exercise was a response to what he claimed were continuous efforts by the United States and its NATO allies to beef up their forces near Russia’s borders.

In the past three weeks, the Russian military has deployed two armies and three airborne formations to western regions “as a response to the alliance’s military activities threatening Russia,” the defense minister said.

“The troops have shown their full readiness to fulfill tasks to ensure the country’s security,” he said.

The U.S. and its allies have sounded alarm about the concentration of Russian troops along the border with Ukraine and increasing violations of a cease-fire in eastern Ukraine, where Russia-baсked separatists and Ukrainian forces have been locked in a conflict since Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

A Ukrainian Su-27 Flanker and MiG-29 Fulcrum escort two B-1B Lancers during a training mission for Bomber Task Force Europe on May 29, 2020, in the Black Sea region. Ukraine's Air Force consists mainly of older Russian-made equipment. (Courtesy of the Ukrainian Air Force)

More than 14,000 people have died in fighting in eastern Ukraine, and efforts to negotiate a political settlement have stalled. The chief of NATO on Tuesday called the recent Russian deployment the largest concentration of troops near the Ukraine border since 2014.



Read More: 2 US Navy ships to sail Black Sea amid Russian troop buildup near Ukraine

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