US wants Russia to explain the recent live-fire exercises on Ukraine’s border

12 January 2022, 03:36 PM

The United States has demanded that Russia explain why it has started a new set of military drills on the Russian-Ukrainian border, and if the exercises are using real munitions, instead of training ones or simulated firing. 

Russia’s Ministry of Defense of Russia announced the start of new set of military drills on the Russian-Ukrainian borders on Jan. 11, describing them as “live-fire” and involving the use of armor.

The maneuvers involved 3,000 military personnel and 300 pieces of military hardware, and are being held on military ranges in border regions near Belarus and Ukraine, according to a report by Russian news agency Interfax.

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The Russian announcement came just a day after the U.S.-Russia talks on “security guarantees” in Geneva that were held to de-escalate tensions caused by the build-up of Russian troops on Ukraine’s border and in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories.

U.S. State Department spokesperson Ned Price stated “an environment of de-escalation” was necessary for “meaningful progress” in the U.S.-Russia talks to be made and “reciprocal measures” to be taken.

He further said the United States has not seen the de-escalation it wanted – meaning, the spokesperson explained, a draw-down of troops from the Ukrainian border, an end to so-called “exercises,” and an explanation for Russian’s current live-fire drills.

Price also added that, by the perspective of the United States, Ukraine had shown its commitment to finding a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

He also expressed a concern that Russia seemed to be “resorting to their playbook,” as happened in 2014, when “provocations” were staged to seize Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula, and later portions of Ukraine’s eastern Donbas region.

Commenting on the agenda for the Jan. 12 NATO-Russia Council meeting, Price said a discussion of a ban on NATO membership for Ukraine, one of the Kremlin’s recently-stated “security guarantee” demands, was not on the table.

Currently, over 100,000 Russian troops are estimated to be deployed near the Russian-Ukrainian border and in Russian-occupied Ukrainian territories, according to Ukrainian intelligence sources.

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