UK & World News

  • 4 August 2014, 15:35

Russia Stages Exercises On Ukraine Border

Russia has announced military exercises involving fighter jets and bombers near the border with Ukraine.

An air force spokesman said more than 100 planes and helicopters will take part in five days of manoeuvres in its central and western military districts, according to Interfax news agency.

Igor Klimov said the exercises were the first in a series aimed at improving co-ordination in the military.

But the operations are likely to heighten tensions over the Ukraine crisis, with the West already accusing Russia of strengthening troop numbers along its border with Ukraine and arming rebels in the east of the country.

Mr Klimov said Su-27 and MiG-31 fighter jets, Russia's frontline bomber the Su-34 and Mi-8, Mi-24 and Mi-28N helicopters will take part in the exercises, which will involve missile practice.

He added the aircraft would be testing "weapons on land and air targets" and would be carrying out "electronic launches of anti-aircraft missiles in Ashuluk".

It comes after a Russian official from the FSB security service in the Rostov region claimed more than 400 Ukrainian troops have asked for asylum in Russia.

The Itar-Tass news agency reported him as saying: "During the night 438 Ukrainian soldiers asked Russian border guards about asylum."

In March, Russia staged exercises close to the Ukraine border involving 8,500 artillery personnel.

Two months later, it said it had withdrawn forces from the border, but Nato has accused Moscow of increasing numbers again in July.

Last month, a US reconnaissance plane crossed into Swedish airspace to avoid being intercepted by Russian fighters.