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Russia orders troops back after massive drills near Ukraine

Russia’s Defence Minister on Thursday ordered troops back to their permanent bases following massive drills in Crimea that involved dozens of Navy ships, hundreds of war planes and thousands of troops in a show of force amid tensions with Ukraine.

After watching the drills, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu declared the manoeuvres over and ordered the military to pull the troops taking part in manoeuvres in Crimea and western Russia back to their permanent bases.

“I consider the goals of the snap check of readiness fulfilled,” Mr. Shoigu said. “The troops have shown their defence capability and I decided to complete the drills in the South and Western military districts.”

He said the troops should return to their bases by May 1, but he also ordered to keep the heavy weapons deployed to western Russia as part of the drills for another massive military exercise later this year.

Mr. Shoigu said they should remain at the Pogonovo firing range in the southwestern Voronezh region. The sprawling range is located 160 kilometers east of the border with Ukraine.

The Russian troop buildup near Ukraine that came amid increasing violations of a ceasefire in Ukraine’s east has raised concerns in the West, which urged the Kremlin to pull its forces back.

The U.S. and NATO has said that the Russian buildup near Ukraine was the largest since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea and threw its support behind separatists in eastern Ukraine.

The Russian Defence Ministry said the manoeuvres in Crimea involved more than 60 ships, over 10,000 troops, around 200 aircraft and about 1,200 military vehicles.

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Printable version | May 16, 2021 9:16:39 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/international/russia-orders-troops-back-after-massive-drills-near-ukraine/article34387483.ece

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