Russia issues stark warning to Ukraine for proposed missile launch above annexed Crimea

Russia issues stark warning to Ukraine for proposed missile launch above annexed Crimea

TENSIONS in eastern Europe continue to mount after the Ukrainian military looks set to fire missiles into Russian airspace near the Crimea – a move which has been condemned by the Kremlin.

By HARRY WALKER

Relations between the two nations remain fraught after Putin’s annexation of the Crimea yet Ukraine’s move to blast missiles near the area could deepen divisions.

In a statement made on Friday, Russia’s air transport agency accused Ukraine of overstepping diplomatic boundaries after it decided to hold military exercises above Crimean territorial waters in the Black Sea.

The statement said: “In violation of all international agreements, Ukraine unilaterally decided to hold missile firing exercises in Russia’s sovereign airspace near Simferopol.”

Russian spokesman Sergei Izvolsky issued a warning declaring the decision a violation of “basic principles of civil aviation” that require coordination to close airspace with bordering countries.

The defence ministry for the former Soviet nations slammed the plans, branding them illegal and issuing a note of protest of Ukraine’s defence staff.

The weapons drills will take place at the beginning of December, according to the Russian intelligence, who claim the missiles will be blasted into Russia’s civil airspace, and potentially threaten flight safety.

But Oleksandr Turchynov, chairman of the Ukrainian Security and Defence Council, said Ukraine has no plans to conduct the exercises in the airspace between Russia and Crimea – and added that Ukraine is free to conduct military drills anywhere in its airspace.

The developments come as the International Criminal Court (ICC) earlier this month branded Russia’s invasion of Ukraine a “crime”.

The organisation’s preliminary investigations found there to be a “sensible or reasonable justification for a belief that a crime falling within the jurisdiction of the Court ‘has been or is being committed’” within the Crimean and Donbass territories of Ukraine.

But the report led Russia to withdraw from the ICC, who chastised the organisation for failing to “meet the expectations to become a truly independent, authoritative, international tribunal”.

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