Russia’s Black Sea fleet launches naval combat exercises

TEHRAN, Apr. 28 (MNA) – Russia’s Black Sea fleet launched naval combat exercises on Tuesday as a US coastguard vessel headed to the region.

Moscow alarmed Kyiv and Western capitals in recent weeks by building up forces along the border with Ukraine, though last week it ordered a withdrawal of some troops, Reuters reported.

Russia’s Black Sea fleet said on Tuesday its Moskva cruiser would hold live-fire drills with other ships and military helicopters, Interfax news agency reported.

Hours earlier, US Naval Forces in Europe said the US Coast Guard vessel Hamilton, a cutter, was moving into the Black Sea to work with NATO allies and partners in the region.

The RIA news agency quoted Russia’s defence ministry on Tuesday evening as saying the Hamilton had entered the Black Sea and was being tracked by the Russian fleet.

Russia said its troop build-up near the border with Ukraine was part of drills in response to the threatening behaviour by NATO.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday Russia had not pulled back forces because of external pressure, and that Moscow moved troops around on its own territory as it saw fit.

“The actions of the US and NATO in the European region to increase the combat readiness of troops and strengthen their forward presence is contributing to an increase in military danger,” Shoigu said in comments circulated by the defence ministry.

HJ/PR

News Code 172719

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