“The exercises are taking place with the aim of preparing to stop and repel an external attack, as part of a defensive operation,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement, according to AFP.
This comes at a time when the United States said that Russia continues to strengthen its military presence on the borders of Ukraine, in conjunction with France’s assertion that it had obtained pledges from the Kremlin, not to take place further “escalation”.
“We’ve continued, including in the past 24 hours, to note the flow of additional capabilities from other parts of Russia toward the borders with Ukraine and Belarus,” Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said.“.
He added, “We will not give specific numbers, but they continue to increase,” noting that there are “more than 100,000” soldiers currently, pointing out that there are “indications that other fighting groups are on their way.”“.
He stressed that Russian President Vladimir Putin “continues to strengthen his military capabilities … Every day he gives himself more options, every day he strengthens his capabilities, every day he continues to destabilize an already very tense situation.”“.
The spokesman noted that the United States had no intention of carrying out any operations in non-NATO Ukraine, while the vanguard of 3,000 American soldiers sent to “reassure” allies of the alliance’s eastern wing began to deploy in Poland and Romania.
Washington accuses Moscow of preparing for a possible large-scale invasion of Ukraine in the near future, although US officials believe that Vladimir Putin has not yet made a decision on launching the invasion..
For his part, the French President met his Russian counterpart in Moscow on Monday, and then his Ukrainian counterpart Volodymyr Zelensky on Tuesday in Kiev.
Macron confirmed that he had received pledges from the Russian President that there would be no further “escalation”, and Paris confirmed that this visit enabled “to move forward” to calm the situation.