Ukraine is preparing to conduct two days of missile tests in the Black Sea, as Russia reportedly put its air defense forces on high alert on the Crimea peninsula.
Ukrainian officials said the tests, on December 1-2, were legal and would be conducted in line with international treaties and obligations.
“We will continue to strengthen the defense capability of our nation and continue missile tests and training,” Ukrainian defense chief Oleksander Turchynov said ahead of the exercises.
Kyiv issued a warning earlier this week for aircraft to avoid the northern part of the Black Sea where the tests would be conducted.
Russian news agencies, meanwhile, quoted Defense Ministry officials in Moscow as saying land-based and ship-based air defenses in Crimea had been ordered on to higher alert.
Home to the Russian Black Sea Fleet, the Crimean Peninsula was annexed by Russia in 2014, a move not recognized by the nearly all United Nations members states.
The tests were a “new large-scale provocation” aimed at “escalating the conflict between Ukraine and Russia,” a spokeswoman for Russia’s Foreign Ministry said on November 30.
In September, Russia held large-scale war games across its entire southern military district, including, for the first time, Crimea.
Based on reporting by Interfax, Reuters, and TASS