Russia, holding military exercises near Ukraine, says ties with US ‘on the ground’

A helicopter is launched during military exercises conducted by the armed forces of Russia and Belarus at the Gozhsky training ground in Grodno region, Belarus, in this photo posted on February 12, 2022. Leonid Scheglov/BelTA/Handout via REUTERS

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MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Russian navy conducted anti-submarine exercises in the Black Sea on Monday as fighter jets patrolled its border with ally Belarus in the latest display of intense military activity near Ukraine.

The United States said on Sunday Russia can invade Ukraine at any time And it might create a surprising pretext for an attack, because it reaffirmed its pledge to defend “every inch” of NATO territory. Russia accuses the West of hysteria. Read more

The Kremlin acknowledged that relations between Moscow and Washington were “on the ground”.

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Russia has massed more than 100,000 troops near Ukraine, but has repeatedly denied any plans to invade it. It is conducting major joint military exercises in Belarus, Ukraine’s northern neighbor, and naval exercises in the Black Sea near the Crimean peninsula that Moscow annexed from Kiev in 2014. Read more

Other exercises with more than 30 transport and attack helicopters participating in tactical exercises are underway in southern Russia, the military said, while the air force simulated repelling enemy air strikes in the northern Leningrad region using S-400 surface-to-air missile systems.

Izvestia daily quoted military sources as saying that Russia would also send a detachment of ships armed with cruise and hypersonic missiles from its Caspian Sea fleet to the Black and Mediterranean Seas.

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Meanwhile, the Russian Defense Ministry said crews of Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets conducted a joint patrol flight along the Russia-Belarus border on Monday.

“This is our land”

Russia said its forces will leave Belarus once the exercises are over. Belarusian President Alexander Lukashenko on Monday said the same, but hinted that it would depend on him and Russian President Vladimir Putin making that decision.

“It will be our decision…this is our territory,” Lukashenko was quoted as saying by the state-run Belta news agency.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Putin in televised comments that some of the country’s military exercises have already ended and others are coming to an end.

Washington’s increased military presence in Europe has angered Russia, and despite the recent uptick in bilateral dialogue, relations remain unfortunate.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said one of the positive things is that Putin and US President Joe Biden, who Talk on the phone on Saturday-You are in touch. Read more

“This is a plus because you know that only two years ago there was no dialogue, there were no such contacts at all,” Peskov was quoted as saying by the RIA news agency.

“But for the rest, unfortunately, in bilateral relations, we can only talk about the negatives. We are at a very low point. They are actually lying on the ground,” he added.

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(Reporting by Maria Kisilova and Alexander Marrow) Editing by Mark Trevelyan and Andrew Heavens

Our criteria: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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