Russia Orders Troops Back After Massive Drills in Crimea
The US-based news agency reported that Russia decided to withdraw its troops to return home after the massive exercise that involved dozens of navy ships, hundreds of warplanes and thousands of troops. The drill is considered as a show of force to Ukraine.
After watching the drills, Russian Defence Minister Shoigu said, “I consider the goals of the snap check of readiness fulfilled,” and added, “The troops have shown their defence capability, and I decided to complete the drills in the South and Western military districts.”
The Russian military hasn’t reported the number of additional troops moved to Crimea and parts of southwestern Russia near Ukraine. It wasn’t immediately clear from Shoigu’s statement if all of them will now be pulled back.
The US and NATO had said that the Russian build-up 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, 200 aircraft and about 1,200 military vehicles.
The exercise is mainly considered an answer to NATO’s Defender Europe 2021 exercise.
Last week, Russia announced that it would close broad areas of the Black Sea near Crimea to foreign navy ships and state vessels until November, which drew Ukrainian protests and raised Western concerns. Russia also announced restrictions on flights near Crimea this week, arguing that they fully conform to international law.