by Chris Pleasance for The Daily Mail
The Russian navy is holding snap live-fire drills in the Black Sea today as the first of two US warships is expected to arrive amid soaring tensions in the region, the country’s military has said.
Two missile ships – the Graivoron and Vyshny Volochek – are taking part in sea-level and aerial target practice alongside the missile hovercraft Samum while accompanied by frigate Admiral Makarov and mine-sweeping ship Ivan Golubets, the Russian navy’s Black Sea fleet command said.
The drill comes as the first of two US warships – thought to be destroyers USS Donald Cook and USS Roosevelt – is expected to arrive in the Black Sea today, despite Russian warnings to keep them away ‘for their own good’.
Meanwhile Ukraine announced it was also holding its own land-based drills with infantry and tank units rehearsing their defence against an tank and troop attack along the border with annexed Ukraine.
Tensions between the two countries remained high today as Moscow showed no sign of abating its military build-up with gunboats, artillery and armoured vehicles filmed heading towards the border – despite Joe Biden calling for Putin to ‘de-escalate’ during a phone call yesterday.
Putin’s spokesman Dimitry Peskov said that Russia is today ‘studying’ a proposal by Biden for the two leaders to hold a summit, but it is ‘too early to talk about this meeting in terms of specifics.’
There are now thought to be 83,000 Russian troops stationed along the Ukrainian border alongside an array of hardware including tanks and anti-aircraft missiles, which Russia claims is being deployed for two weeks of training exercises in response to a NATO build-up – which the alliance says does not exist.
Instead, western observers believe the build-up is designed to test Joe Biden response – with German Defence Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer saying today that Moscow is trying ‘to provoke a reaction’.
‘Together with Ukraine, we won’t be drawn into this game,’ she said.
Separately, Margarita Simonyan – editor-in-chief of Russian state-run outlets RT and Sputnik and staunchly pro-Kremlin mouthpiece – warned that war between the two nuclear-armed superpowers is ‘inevitable’ and encouraged Moscow to prepare itself.
Three Russian missile ships, a frigate and a mine-sweeping vessel will take part in snap live-fire drills in the Black Sea today amid soaring tensions around the border with Ukraine…