Russia moves warships to Black Sea for drills: Interfax

Russia’s Defence Ministry said on Thursday it was moving more than 10 navy vessels, including landing boats and artillery warships, from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea to take part in exercises, Interfax news agency reported.

Western nations and Ukraine have voiced concern over a Russian military buildup near Ukraine. Moscow has said its forces will stay put as long as it sees fit and that they pose no threat.

On Tuesday, it said it was beginning a planned combat readiness inspection of its forces that would involve more than 4,000 drills this month.

“As part of the winter training check, more than 10 amphibious and artillery boats and vessels of the southern military district are conducting an inter-fleet move from the Caspian Sea to the Black Sea,” the ministry was quoted as saying on Thursday.

It said they would take part in drills.

Russia’s Black Sea fleet is based in Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014. Kiev wants the peninsula back.

Russian President Vladimir Putin accused Ukraine of provocative action in eastern Ukraine that was inflaming the situation there during a phone call with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the Kremlin said on Thursday.

In a readout of the call, the Kremlin said that both sides had voiced concerns about the situation in eastern Ukraine. They also discussed the case of jailed Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny and Libya, the Kremlin said.

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