REUTERS

Ukraine said on Friday it would conduct military exercises, which it hoped NATO partners would join, as an answer to planned Russian exercises in the Caucasus, and an insurance against any resulting escalation on its eastern borders.

Defence Minister Andriy Taran told the parliament the exercises would include anti-aircraft fire and would be held at the end of September in southern Ukraine, as reported by Reuters.

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Relations between Moscow and Kyiv have been tense since 2014, when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine and backed an insurgency in eastern Ukraine that remains active.

Clashes between Ukrainian troops and Russian-backed forces have killed more than 13,000 people since 2014, despite a ceasefire agreement struck in 2015.

"This asymmetric response will show the readiness of the armed forces of Ukraine to give a worthy rebuff to any attempts by the Russian Federation to exacerbate the situation or start large-scale hostilities," Taran said.

He said Kyiv would invite NATO countries to join the event.