Russia kicks off fresh shooting drills near Ukraine border

Moscow, Jan 11 (EFE).- Around 3,000 Russian soldiers have taken part in fresh shooting drills near the border with Ukraine, Russia’s military announced Tuesday.

The exercises that took place in the regions of Smolensk, Belgorod, Bryansk and Voronezh included T-72B3 tanks and armored infantry units, the army’s Western Military district reported.

The tactical drills aim to let motorized army divisions practice shooting against potential enemies at ranges of up to 1,200 meters.

In recent months, Ukraine and Nato have denounced the massive buildup of Russian forces near Ukraine’s borders, which is sparking fears of a possible invasion.

Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov denied plans to attack Ukraine following security talks with the United States in Geneva on Monday.

“We have no plans, no intentions to attack Ukraine,” he said.

Ryabkov, however, said that Russia needs “rock-solid” guarantees that Ukraine and Georgia will never become Nato members.

“We would like Nato’s Madrid summit to revoke the formula that was adopted at the Bucharest summit in 2008. Neither Ukraine nor Georgia should become members of the alliance,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, Lithuania’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) announced it will send military aid, including lethal and non-lethal weapons, to Ukraine.

“With the serious security challenges that Ukraine is facing, we have agreed to extend support in the form of practicable assistance: we will increase the number of military instructors in our military training mission and render material and humanitarian aid,” defense minister, Arvydas Anusauskas, said in a statement.

Lithuania’s decision to send aid to Ukraine reflects a joint agreement between the three Baltic states in December, in which they highlighted the urgency to strengthen Ukraine’s defense capabilities and provide immediate support “including all available non-military and military instruments of power, including lethal weapons.” EFE


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