Russia carried out a military drill on naval bases in the Black Sea, south of Ukraine, with about ten crews of combat planes and ships that targeted hypothetical enemy warships, the Black Sea Fleet’s press office said on Wednesday.
“The crews of Su-27SM3 and Su-30M2 fighters of the Southern Military District’s mixed aviation unit stationed in the Krasnodar Region performed training flights over the Black Sea. As a specific feature of this stage of the training flights, the fighters’ crews practiced cohesion in joint operations to deliver strikes against enemy surface targets,” the office said in a statement, Russia’s state-run media agency TASS reported.
In the course of the combat training event, troops practiced how to respond to enemy air attacks with training flights over Black Sea waters in cooperation with the Black Sea Fleet, the statement said.
Russia’s Black Sea Fleet is based in Crimea, which Moscow annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Kyiv wants Russia to hand it back.
Ukraine, together with its ally the United States, has said it believes Russia may be preparing an invasion after reports emerged of unusual Russian military activity.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken previously said the United States is concerned over the reports, referring to claims made by Ukraine’s Defense Ministry this month that about 90,000 Russian troops are stationed close to its border with Russia. Blinken said the situation is being monitored “very closely.”
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Tuesday that media reports of plans by Russia to invade Ukraine are an “empty and groundless” escalation of tensions, TASS reported.
Meanwhile, Ukraine on Wednesday held what it called a “special operation” at the border with Belarus, including drone exercises and military drills for anti-tank and airborne units.
It has deployed 8,500 extra troops to its border with Belarus, saying it fears being drawn into the illegal immigrant crisis, which has seen the European Union accuse Minsk of flying in people from the Middle East and pushing them to enter neighboring Poland. Belarus denies fomenting the crisis.
Kyiv also worries that the border with Belarus, a close Russian ally, could be used by Russia to stage a military assault.
Isabel van Brugen and Reuters contributed to this report.