Russia has sent warships to the Black Sea. Internationally, concerns about an escalation of the conflict in Eastern Ukraine are growing. An EU official called the developments “extremely worrying”.
Moscow (dpa) – Amid renewed tensions in Eastern Ukraine, Russia has sent 15 warships to maneuver in the Black Sea. According to the Interfax office, the navy said they had passed the Kerch Strait on the Crimean peninsula.
It was initially not stated how long the exercises will take. Previously, following complaints from Russia, the US had canceled the shipment of two warships to the Black Sea, according to Turkish information.
On Friday, the Russian Defense Ministry announced that certain sea areas in Crimea would have to be cordoned off for months due to maneuvers. Shipping on the strait is not affected, he said. Nevertheless, there was criticism from the EU, NATO and Ukraine of Russia’s actions. A senior EU official spoke of “an extremely worrying development”.
The deployment of Russian troops not far from the Ukrainian border has heightened international concerns about an escalation. For nearly seven years, parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions along the Russian border have been controlled by separatists loyal to Moscow. The UN estimates that more than 13,000 people were killed in the fighting. A peace plan agreed in 2015 with Franco-German mediation has been suspended.
However, the head of the Ukrainian military operation, Sergei Najew, said he did not expect another war. “We do not see any preparations for an attack,” he said on Ukrainian television on Saturday evening. “In fact, field hospitals have been established.” All units are in camps, on firing ranges. “In military language we speak of a demonstration of strength.”
It was not until Friday that Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Emmanuel Macron expressed concern about the deployment of Russian troops along the Ukrainian border and called on Moscow to withdraw.
Meanwhile, a Ukrainian diplomat has been arrested in the Russian city of Saint Petersburg. The FSB domestic secret service announced that it had received documents classified as secret. That is incompatible with diplomatic status.
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