This is the moment the Russian military carries out an enormous drill with around 10,000 soldiers and 40 warships on a Crimean training ground on the same day the Kremlin said it would reduce its military presence on Ukraine’s border.
The so-called ‘surprise training exercise’ came as Western leaders, who feared Russia was planning to invade the Ukraine, breathed a sigh of relief after the Kremlin promised to pull its troops back from the Ukrainian border.
Russian Ministry of Defence announced that it was carrying out a “surprise training exercise to ensure combat readiness” at the Opuk training ground located in Crimea approximately 60 kilometres (37 miles) from the town of Feodosia yesterday (22nd April).
The military exercise came on the same day that Sergei Shoigu, Russian Defence Minister, stated that the military would pull back from the Ukrainian border and reduce its presence in the Crimea after weeks of tension between the Kremlin and NATO in the region.
The Russian MoD stated that the drills involved 10,000 servicemen and women, 1,200 units of military equipment, over 40 warships, and several units from Russian Airborne Forces.
Earlier this week Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union, voiced concerns that Russia had concentrated over 100,000 troops on Ukraine’s border.
Western leaders feared that Russia was planning an invasion and German Councillor Angela Merkel called for Putin to pull his troops back from the Donbass region which borders Ukraine on 8th April.
However, the situation appeared to be improving when Shoigu announced yesterday (22nd April) that the Russian presence in the region would be reduced with several military units set to pull back.
The announcement came as a relief to global leaders and US President Joe Biden reacted by cancelling plans to deploy US warships in the Black Sea as a deterrent.
Russia’s annexation of Crimea following a controversial referendum in 2014 has been at the heart of tensions between Russia and the US along with its western allies.
The USA and its allies have refused to recognise Russia’s sovereignty over the region claiming the referendum was illegal and calling for Crimea to be returned to Ukraine.