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Russian army holds large-scale combat readiness check in Crimea

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“On April 22, 2021, the main stage of exercises of Southern Military District Troops and Airborne Troops, carried out as part of a surprise combat readiness check, will be held at the Opuk training ground (Republic of Crimea),” the Ministry said.

The Opuk training ground is located 60 kilometers from Feodosia and 40 kilometers from Kerch, the Ministry added.

The drills involve units of an integrated combined arms force, Air Force and air defense units, warships and vessels, military units of Black Sea Fleet coastal forces, part of Caspian Flotilla forces of the Southern Military District, as well as Airborne Troops units.

The military maneuvers are taking place amid tensions between Kyiv and Moscow. Josep Borrell, the EU’s high representative for foreign policy, said Monday that Russia had concentrated more than 150,000 Russian troops near the Ukrainian borders and in Crimea.

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Meanwhile, Russia has responded that it’s free to deploy its armed forces on its own territory as it chooses.

Considered to still be Ukrainian territory by Western countries, including the EU and the US, Crimea came under Russian control after a controversial referendum on 16 March 2014, in which 97 percent of the Crimea residents reportedly voted in favor of independence from Ukraine and joining Russia.

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Western countries have continued to criticize what they consider an illegal annexation of the Peninsula.

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