Russia to hold paratrooper drills near Ukrainian border

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MOSCOW, Dec 23 (Reuters) – Hundreds of Russian paratroopers will hold drills near the Ukrainian border this week, the Interfax news agency quoted Russia’s defence ministry as saying on Thursday, amid a standoff between Moscow and the West over Kyiv’s NATO aspirations.

Some 1,200 troops and over 250 vehicles and aircraft will be involved in the exercise that will be split between training grounds in Crimea – which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 – and the nearby Krasnodar province.

Interfax quoted the ministry as saying that the troops would simulate capturing an area as part of an offensive operation.

Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops at staging posts close to Ukraine and demanded that its southern neighbour not be admitted to NATO and that no offensive weapons be deployed there or in other neighbouring countries.

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