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Russia sends warships for manoeuvres amid tension in eastern Ukraine

Russia sends warships for manoeuvres amid tension in eastern Ukraine

dpa
Moscow
Russia has sent 15 warships to the Black Sea for a military manoeuvre amid renewed tensions in eastern Ukraine.
The Russian warships passed through the Kerch Strait on the Crimean peninsula on Saturday, the navy said, according to the Interfax news agency agency.
The United States had previously cancelled the deployment of two warships to the strategically significant sea that lies between Europe and Asia following complaints from Russia, according to Turkish sources.
There had been fears the presence of Russian and US warships in the waters off Ukraine could lead to a military showdown.
Washington backs the government in Kiev and US President Joe Biden has promised the Ukrainian president “unwavering support.” On Friday, the Russian Defence Ministry declared that certain areas of the Black Sea near the Crimean Peninsula, with Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, would be closed off through October because of the manoeuvres. However, shipping in the strait was not affected.
The European Union, NATO and Ukraine criticized Russia’s actions. A senior EU official spoke of an “extremely worrying development.” International concern is growing about an escalation of the conflict in eastern Ukraine because of Russian troop deployments not far from the Ukrainian border.
For almost seven years, parts of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions along the Russian border - collectively known as Donbas - have been controlled by separatists loyal to Moscow.
According to UN estimates, more than 13,000 people have been killed in the fighting. A peace plan agreed in 2015 with Franco-German mediation is on hold.
The head of Ukraine’s military operation, Sergei Nayev, indicated that he does not expect a new immediate escalation, despite the recent amassing of Russian troops at the border.
“We don’t see any attack preparations there,” he told Ukrainian television on Friday night.

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