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Ukraine to hold joint military drills with NATO amid escalating tensions with Russia

Ukraine to hold joint military drills with NATO amid escalating tensions with Russia
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Ukraine’s military announced Saturday that it will hold joint military drills with NATO troops later this year amid escalating violence with pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of the country.

The armed forces said in a statement on Facebook that the drills will be held with more than 1,000 military personnel from at least five NATO member states in a few months.

“In particular, defensive actions will be worked out, followed by an offensive in order to restore the state border and territorial integrity of a state that has been subjected to aggression by one of the hostile neighboring countries,” the statement said, in an apparent reference to Russia. 

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An exact date for the drills, which were described as routine, was not provided.

“Exercise Cossack Mace is a routine exercise which is still in the planning stage," a U.K. UK Ministry of Defence spokesperson said in a statement to The Hill. "It is due to take place in Summer 2021.”

Moscow had preemptively rebuked any potential deployment of NATO personnel to Ukraine, warning that it would ramp up pressure along the border between the two countries.

But pressure has already ramped up along the border, with Russia building up its military presence on its side of the barrier. Fighting also increased with separatists backed by Moscow in eastern Ukraine, spelling the potential end to a cease-fire in the Donetsk region.

The Ukrainian parliament this week put out a statement declaring an “escalation” along the front, citing a “significant increase in shelling and armed provocations by the armed forces of the Russian Federation.”

Ukraine, which represents NATO’s front line in Eastern Europe against Russian expansion, pressed Western governments to “continue and increase international political and economic pressure on Russia.”

--Updated on April 4 at 6:18 a.m.