April 24, 2014 - 18:16 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced Thursday, April 24, that Russia will conduct military drills in response to the situation in Ukraine’s southeast, where the new authorities launched a special operation to suppress pro-Russian activists.
“We are forced to react,” Shoigu said, according to RIA Novosti.
“Starting today, exercises of battalion tactical groups from the Southern and Western military districts will begin near the border with Ukraine,” he said.
The troops will hold marching rehearsals and exercise deployments for performing assigned tasks, the Defense Minister said.
Shoigu also added that “aircraft will do fly-bys close to the state border.”
A gunfight broke out between unidentified gunmen and local federalists near the eastern Ukrainian city of Slaviansk on Thursday. At least five people were killed as result of the crackdown, which Russian Putin Vladimir Putin described as a “grave crime,” according to RIA Novosti.
The Security Service of Ukraine announced Wednesday that the military operation launched by Ukrainian authorities earlier this month against protesters in eastern Ukraine had again entered an active phase, following a temporary suspension after an agreement reached in Geneva last week.
Protesters in Kharkiv, Donetsk, Gorlovka, Slaviansk and Kramatorsk refuse to recognize the legitimacy of the current Ukrainian government and are urging interim authorities to hold referendums similar to the one held in Crimea last month, which led to the republic's unification with Russia.