Russia stages live-fire drills with 1,000 tank troops near Ukraine

Russia stages huge live-fire drills with 1,000 tank troops close to Ukraine border as Putin continues to stoke invasion fears

  • The ground battle exercises were held at Kadamovsky firing range in Rostov region, just 30 miles from Ukraine
  • Video footage shows more than 1,000 tank troops taking part in live-firing drills
  • US intelligence estimates as many as 175,000 Russian troops could launch attack on Ukraine early next year  

Russia has staged huge live-firing drills with more than 1,000 tank troops in a region close to the Ukraine border as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to stoke fears that Moscow will invade Kiev.   

The latest show of strength by Putin comes amid high tension between the autocrat and the West with fears the Kremlin is planning to invade its neighbour within weeks.

The ground battle exercises some 30 miles from the frontier will do nothing to calm fears over his intentions.

Video footage and pictures show the drills held by the country’s southern military district at Kadamovsky firing range in Rostov region.

Russia has staged huge live-firing drills with more than 1,000 tank troops in a region close to the Ukraine border as Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to stoke fears that Moscow will invade Kiev

Video footage and pictures show the drills held by the country’s southern military district at Kadamovsky firing range in Rostov region

On Monday, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Putin in a phone call of his ‘deep concern’ about the Russian military build-up close to Ukraine, and that ‘serious consequences’ will follow in the event of invasion.

Putin has denied Russia planned to seize territory from Ukraine and accused Britain and its allies of ‘demonising’ his country. 

US intelligence officials estimate that as many as 175,000 Russian troops could launch an attack early next year, with troops, tanks and artillery already massing on the Ukrainian border.

Tensions continue to soar between Moscow and the West over Ukraine, as Russia said on Tuesday it was monitoring a French warship near its borders in the Black Sea.    

In the drills, soldiers performed fire training in the field using AK-74M, RPG-7V and AGS-17 Plamya hand and automatic grenade launchers, said TV Zvezda, run by the Russian defence ministry.

In the drills, soldiers performed fire training in the field using AK-74M, RPG-7V and AGS-17 Plamya hand and automatic grenade launchers, said TV Zvezda, run by the Russian defence ministry

More than 100 crews of BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles equipped with 100-mm guns performed exercises of live firing from short stops and in motion at distances up to 1,000 metres, according to the Russians

More than 100 crews of BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles equipped with 100-mm guns performed exercises of live firing from short stops and in motion at distances up to 1,000 metres, according to the Russians.

Motorised riflemen completed shooting exercises using AK-74M assault rifles, RPG-7V hand and automatic grenade launchers and AGS-17 Plamya grenade launchers.

They ‘mastered the skills of camouflaging shooting positions’.

The range is some 30 miles from the border with the pro-Moscow rebel-held Luhansk region of Ukraine.

The latest drills involving 1,000-plus troops followed a five-day exercise when 500 tanks crews performed winter live firing from T-72B3 and T-90A tanks.

The earlier drills were carried out at multiple locations across the southern military district but included Rostov and also Crimea, annexed by Russia from Ukraine in 2014.

A Russian soldier climbs onto a moving tank while carrying a gun during the military exercises

More than 100 crews of BMP-3 infantry fighting vehicles equipped with 100-mm guns performed exercises of live firing from short stops and in motion at distances up to 1,000 metres, according to the Russians

Kiev mayor urges European leaders to provide military aid and support amid fears of Russian invasion 

Kiev mayor and former boxing champion Vitali Klitschko has urged European leaders to provide military aid and support to Ukraine amid growing fears that Russia will invade.

Klitschko said Kiev is now preparing for a ‘possible emergency’ as he organises the city’s civil defence. 

The mayor voiced fears that politicians are saying that Putin will not attack Ukraine and they are ‘just threats and games’. 

Klitschko pointed to how politicians had said a Russian invasion was ‘impossible’ in 2014 – but Moscow did invade. 

Kiev mayor and former boxing champion Vitali Klitschko has urged European leaders to provide military aid and support to Ukraine amid growing fears that Russia will invade

Ukrainians deposed their pro-Russian president in 2014, prompting Russia to invade and seize and then annex the southern Crimean peninsula from Ukraine.  

Russian-backed separatists also captured large swathes of Ukraine’s two eastern regions known as the Donbas.  

Klitschko wrote in German newspaper Bild: ‘Putin has gathered more than 100,000 Russian soldiers near our borders, a threat unprecedented.   

‘There are different scenarios how the Russian army can attack Ukraine, we have to be prepared for all of them.’

Klitschko added: ‘Now I keep hearing that some politicians say that Putin will not attack and that these are just threats and games. 

‘It reminds me of the discussions that took place before the 2014 invasion. Even then, almost all international observers thought it was impossible.’

Klitschko said while Ukraine is preparing for Putin to invade, the country is in urgent need of international support and military aid. 

Russian troops disembark from an armoured personnel carrier during drills taking pace in Rostov-on-Don, on the Russian side of the border, on Friday

He explained: ‘In my home town of Kiev we are preparing for a possible emergency and I, as mayor, organize civil defense. 

‘We have intensified our work on recruiting and training reservists.’

He said Germany’s federal government must ‘understand that aid has never been so important to our country’. 

Klitschko added: ‘Ukraine is in the center of Europe. On the border with several EU countries. 

‘We will not allow Russia to lead us back into the Soviet empire, which the people of Ukraine do not want to be in.

‘We are a European country that needs European support more than ever.’

‘The servicemen also fired large-calibre anti-aircraft machine guns,’ said an official account.

‘The crews drilled hitting targets imitating a moving tank, an antitank grenade launcher and a recoilless gun at distances ranging between 300 and 2,000 metres.’

A spokesman said: ‘The drivers practiced driving the tanks in rough terrain, negotiating natural obstacles, including anti tank ditches and barriers.

‘The tank crew combat training program focuses on offensive and defensive tactics both in the daytime and at night.’

These are the latest in a series of military exercises staged by Russia.

It comes as Russia’s Black Sea fleet forces said on Tuesday they ‘began to monitor’ the actions of the French navy’s multi-mission frigate Auvergne after it entered the Black Sea, the defence ministry said in a statement carried by Russian news agencies.

The Russian defence ministry did not offer further details.

Tensions between Moscow and the West are on the rise over Russian troops movements near ex-Soviet Ukraine. 

Last Thursday, Russia scrambled three of its jets to escort five French and US military aircraft over the Black Sea and away from its border, the military said.

That incident followed Russia dispatching planes to escort three French military flying near its borders in the Black Sea a day earlier.

Western countries have issued repeated warnings to Moscow against invading their ally Ukraine. 

Last week, France warned Russia of ‘strategic and massive consequences’ if Moscow attacked Ukraine.

Moscow accuses NATO member countries including France of provoking tensions in the Black Sea and says it is concerned over its security. 

The drills come after the G7 on Sunday warned Russia of ‘massive’ consequences if it invades Ukraine.

Foreign ministers from the world’s richest nations held a two-day meeting in Liverpool, northwest England, seeking to present a strong, united front against global threats. 

Britain, which hands over the G7 presidency to Germany next year, portrayed the two-day conference as a chance to stand up to authoritarianism around the world.

In addition to talks over Iran’s nuclear ambitions, Russia’s build-up of troops on the border with Ukraine dominated talks, given fears of a possible invasion. 

UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said there was ‘very much a united voice… that there will be massive consequences for Russia in the case of an incursion into Ukraine’.

In the final communique, ministers unanimously backed Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, praising President Volodymyr Zelensky for Kiev’s ‘posture of restraint’.

All options, including wide-ranging political and economic sanctions, are on the table if Russia ignores a diplomatic solution, officials indicated.

A senior US State Department official on Saturday said ‘a large number of democratic countries’ were ready to join the G7 nations of Britain, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan and the United States in taking action.

US President Joe Biden last week held a virtual summit with his Russian counterpart Putin to voice Western concerns.

He is sending his top diplomat for Europe and Eurasian affairs to Kiev and Moscow next week for follow-up talks with senior officials. 

Pope Francis also called for the situation to be ‘resolved through serious international dialogue and not with weapons’, following the Angelus prayer at St Peter’s Square.

Germany’s new Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, speaking later on Sunday, warned that The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia would not be allowed to operate in the event of any new ‘escalation’ in Ukraine, under an agreement between Berlin and Washington.

In response to the G7 summit, Putin last night denied Russia planned to seize Ukraine and accused Britain and its allies of ‘demonising’ his country.  

The president’s official spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the accusations by Britain and its allies were ‘once more being made with the aim of further demonising Russia’.

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