Russia orders military regain after extensive training in Crimea

Moscow — Russia’s defense minister on Thursday involved dozens of naval vessels, hundreds of military aircraft, and thousands of troops to exert force in tensions with Ukraine on the Crimean Peninsula. After extensive training, he ordered the troops to return to their permanent base.

After seeing the training, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoygu declared the exercise and ordered the troops participating in the exercises in the Crimean Peninsula and western Russia to return to a permanent base.

“I think the preparation snap check goal has been achieved,” Shoygu said. “The military has shown their defensive capabilities, and I have decided to complete training in the South and West military districts.”

Russia Ukraine
A Russian Su-24 bomber was stationed at an air force base in Crimea in preparation for a maneuver on April 22, 2021. (Russian Ministry of Defense news agency via AP)

Shoygu said the military should return to the base by May 1, but ordered heavy weapons to continue to be deployed in western Russia as part of training for another large-scale military exercise later this year.

Shoygu said he should stay at the Pogonovo shooting range in southwestern Voronezh Oblast. The vast mountain range is 160 km east of the Ukrainian border.

The increase in Russian troops near Ukraine amid an increase in ceasefire violations in eastern Ukraine raised concerns in the west and urged the Kremlin to withdraw its troops.

Russian troops have not reported the number of additional troops that have moved to parts of the Crimean Peninsula and southwestern Russia near Ukraine, and it is not immediately clear from Shoygu’s statement whether they will all withdraw. It was.

The United States and NATO say Russia has had the largest accumulation near Ukraine since 2014, when Russia merged Crimea and cast support behind separatists in eastern Ukraine.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the operation in Crimea involved more than 60 ships, more than 10,000 troops, about 200 aircraft and about 1,200 military vehicles.

The exercise landed more than 2,000 paratroopers and 60 military vehicles on Thursday. Fighters covered the paratroopers.

Shoygu flew a helicopter at the Opuk shooting range on the Crimean Peninsula and oversaw the exercises. He later declared the end of the training, but ordered the military to prepare for the “unfavorable deployment” during the NATO Defender Europe 2021 exercise.

Russia announced last week that it would close a large area of ​​the Black Sea near Crimea to foreign naval and state-owned vessels until November. The move has sparked Ukrainian protests and raised Western concerns. Russia also announced restrictions on flights near Crimea this week, claiming it is fully compliant with international law.

Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba warns on Tuesday that cross-border Russia’s buildup continues, “expected to reach a total of more than 120,000 troops” in about a week, tightening sanctions on Moscow I urged the West.

Moscow rejected concerns about Ukrainian and Western accumulation, arguing that troops could be freely deployed anywhere in Russian territory, and accused no one of threatening. But at the same time, the Kremlin warned Ukrainian authorities not to use force to regain control of the eastern rebels, who killed more than 14,000 in seven years of fighting, and Russia civilians in the region. He said he could be forced to intervene to protect him.

In tension, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky signed a law on Wednesday allowing the convening of reserves for military service without announcing mobilization. Zelensky’s office said in a statement that the new law would allow the army to quickly equip its troops with reserve forces, “significantly improving combat effectiveness during the military invasion.”

Vladimir il Isachenkov