Ukraine conducts military drill near Crimea as tensions soar with Russia
Exercise with rocket launcher systems carried out prepare for emergency situations, says Ukrainian army
Amid heightened tensions with Russia, the Ukrainian military conducted an exercise near the Crimea region, authorities said on Friday.
The Ukrainian army said BM-21 Grad multiple rocket launcher systems were used in the drill in Kherson, located near Crimea, which was illegally annexed by Moscow in 2014.
The exercise was carried out to prepare the Ukrainian military for any emergency situations, the army said.
Diplomatic efforts continue to de-escalate soaring tensions between Russia and the West, with all eyes again set on the Russia-Ukraine border and frontline territories.
Russia is accused of having amassed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine’s border, a move that has prompted concerns by the West that Moscow could be planning another military offensive against its ex-Soviet neighbor.
The Kremlin has denied Western accusations of a looming invasion, saying its forces are there for exercises.
Russian forces entered the Crimean Peninsula in February 2014, with President Vladimir Putin formally dividing the region into two separate federal subjects of the Russian Federation the following month.
Turkiye and the US, as well as the UN General Assembly, view the annexation as illegal.
According to the UN, more than 13,000 people have been killed in clashes between Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s Donbass region since 2014.
* Writing by Jeyhun Aliyev in Ankara, Turkiye