Russia says it will be forced to retaliate
A spokesman for the Ukrainian Armed Forces (AFU) said on Saturday that Kyiv will hold joint military exercises with NATO troops in a few months. This could cause tension in relations with Moscow, which has expressed its opposition to such a move, writes Reuters.
NATO on Thursday expressed concern over a buildup of Russian military power near Ukraine’s eastern border. At the same time, Russia warned that a serious escalation of the conflict in Donbas could “destroy” Ukraine.
The Kremlin said on Friday that any deployment of NATO troops on Ukrainian territory would heighten tensions along Russia’s borders and force Moscow to take additional measures to ensure its own security.
In turn, US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on Thursday, in an interview with his Ukrainian counterpart Andrey Taran, “condemned the recent escalation of Russia’s aggressive and provocative actions in eastern Ukraine” and reaffirmed “unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity, and Euro-Atlantic aspirations.”
The exercises will involve more than a thousand troops from at least five NATO member states and will be held in a few months, according to a statement by the Ukrainian Armed Forces, published on Facebook on Saturday.
“In particular, defensive actions will be worked out with a subsequent offensive in order to restore the state border and the territorial integrity of the state, which has been subjected to aggression by one of the hostile neighboring countries,” the statement says.
It does not specify exactly when the exercise will take place.