The Russian military announced on Thursday, April 22, the start of a combined exercise at the Opuk training ground in the occupied Crimea as part of a no-notice check of combat readiness.
In particular, the Black Sea Fleet's ships and part of the Caspian Flotilla of the Southern Military District have already been deployed in the area of the exercise, RBC reported.
The Opuk training ground is located 60 km from Feodosia and 40 km from Kerch. The drills will involve the combined arms formation's units, air force and air defense units, warships and ships, the Black Sea fleet's coastal forces, part of the Caspian Flotilla, as well as units of the air assault forces. The Russian Defense Ministry stopped short of specifying the numbers of personnel and military equipment involved.
According to the Russian military, the air assault forces have already loaded equipment and personnel onto military transport aircraft and took off to the designated area. Marine units are also loaded onto large landing ships and landing aircraft. In addition, forces and assets of coastal troops, air defense, and anti-ship missile systems have been deployed to take part in the exercise.
Russian troops massing along Ukraine's borders and in occupied Crimea
- Russia has imposed restrictions on flights over part of Crimea and the Black Sea from April 20 to April 24, as well as a ban on maritime navigation in parts of the Black Sea.
- On April 15, 2021, Ukraine's Foreign Ministry voiced protest to Russia over navigation restrictions amid the transfer of warships from the Caspian Sea.
- Fifteen warships of Russia's Caspian Flotilla are reported to have entered the Black Sea.
- Russia has also deployed in the occupied Crimea Su-25SM3 warplanes from Russia's Stavropol Krai (Territory).
- On March 30, 2021, Commander-in-Chief of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, Colonel-General Ruslan Khomchak said Russia had deployed 28 battalion tactical groups along the state border of Ukraine and in the temporarily occupied territories. It is also said to be planning to bring up to 25 battalion tactical groups under the guise of preparing for military drills. Such actions pose a threat to Ukraine's military security.
- According to the Armed Forces of Ukraine, enemy troops are reinforcing their advanced units with reconnaissance teams and sniper pairs, involving Russian army instructors in personnel training. Russia-led forces' artillery units are reportedly on full alert in certain districts, including villages and towns in occupied Ukrainian territory.
- The U.S. European Command raised its alert status to the highest level after fighting had resumed between Russia-led forces and Ukrainian troops in Donetsk region.
- The U.S. Department of Defense said it was "aware of Russian troop movements" on Ukraine's borders and was concerned about recent escalations of Russian aggression in eastern Ukraine.
- The United States, finding reports of Russian military movements on Ukraine's border credible, asked Moscow to explain the "provocations" and is ready to engage on the situation.
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said Moscow was trying to put pressure on Kyiv by amassing its military forces along the Russian-Ukrainian border.