As reported by the press, the Russian Défense Ministry released video of warships and tanks opening fire and fighter jets taking off. It announced that the troops had practiced repelling an aerial attack and that it tested S-400 air defence systems on Russian-annexed Crimea.
The live-fire drills are the culmination of the “Zapad-2021” war games that are expected to run until Thursday on Russia’s and Belarus’ western flanks that include areas close to NATO and the European Union’s borders.
In accordance with Mathieu Boulegue, a research fellow at Britain’s Chatham House think tank, the first three days of the ‘hot phase’ exercises will be focused on defending against a Western attack, with the remaining four days dealing with counter-offensive training.
Ukraine and other members of NATO, Poland and Lithuania, say that these large-scale exercises performed in close proximity to the border are provocative. On Friday, Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, made a statement, saying that all-out war with Russia was a possibility, and that he would like to have a substantive meeting with Russian dictator, Vladimir Putin.
When Zelenskiy was asked about the possibility of war with Russia at the Yalta European Strategy summit, Zelenskiy said: “I think there can be. It’s the worst thing that could happen, but unfortunately there is that possibility.”
This year tension between Kyiv and Moscow became significantly stronger due to the fact that fighting in eastern Ukraine intensified and Russia massed more troops near the border.
Of course, Putin denied that his military drills are directed against any foreign power and claimed they are merely a response to increased NATO activity near Russia’s borders.
The exercises are held every four years, however, this year’s drill is a sign of Russia’s support for Belarus and its leader, Alexander Lukashenko, whom the West has ostracized for cracking down on dissent.
According to Russia’s Defense Ministry, the active phase of the drills would take place at nine sites in Russia and five sites in Belarus. Forces from Armenia, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia are as well due to take part.
There are satellite images that demonstrate that Russia has recently built a new military base in Crimea. US-allied governments accuse Vladimir Putin of secretly amassing troops.
The mentioned images show lines of military vehicles and troop tents in Crimea, a Ukrainian peninsula that Putin annexed in 2014.
On the 13th of April, there was an image published, it demonstrates more than 1,000 vehicles and a substantial number of tents for infantry troops. As reported by Josep Borrell, European Union foreign policy chief, on Monday:
“It is the highest Russian military deployment at Ukrainian borders ever.” Last week, more new images appeared after President Joe Biden offered to Putin a summer summit in Europe without preconditions.