Russian forces were placed on full combat alert Thursday as troops prepared to conduct snap military drills on the nation’s Western flank bordering Ukraine, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu confirmed.
Russian naval and land forces have practiced swiftly moving military hardware and troops to annexed Crimea as part of a logistics exercise which foreshadows much larger war games there next month, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Pro-Russian rebels in Ukraine continue to launch attacks in violation of a ceasefire reached in February, Reuters reports.
A Russian fighter jet conducted a dangerous aerial intercept of a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft two weeks ago over the Black Sea, not the Baltic Sea as originally reported, in the latest sign of heightened military tensions between Moscow and Washington.
Three nuclear-capable bombers deployed to Europe this week for large-scale military exercises near Russia, the Strategic Command announced Friday night.
The B-52s from Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota are currently operating from a base in Britain and joined maritime naval exercises in the Baltic Sea called Baltops 15, the largest naval exercise by NATO forces in the region this year.
Despite the recent arrests of five suspects hailing from the Chechen region of southern Russia in the murder of Boris Nemtsov, the Russian opposition politician murdered in downtown Moscow on February 28, and the suicide of another suspect following a confrontation with police, commentators, including the United Kingdom’s former ambassador to Russia, have noted that some continue to lay blame at the feet of the Kremlin.
In December 2014 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Russia’s Interfax news agency that because Crimea had been absorbed into Russia and was no longer part of Ukraine, Russia “has the right to manage its nuclear arsenal…in accordance with its interests and international legal obligations.”
Nearly one year after Russia’s annexation of Crimea, the crisis continues to deepen between Russian and Ukrainian forces over control of eastern Ukraine. The Ukrainian army withdrew last week from the badly damaged Donetsk airport, one of its few remaining strongholds in the contested eastern portion of the country.
Russia is moving tactical nuclear weapons systems into recently-annexed Crimea while the Obama administration is backing informal talks aimed at cutting U.S. tactical nuclear deployments in Europe.