Russia begins massive military exercise

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A planned “combat readiness” inspection began in the Russian Armed Forces on Tuesday, according to Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu.

The ministry described the drill as a “massive inspection”, to check combat readiness on the territory of all military districts and the Northern Fleet, in the Far North, on the Kuril Islands and Kamchatka.

The tests began amid concern over Russian military activity in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

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According to CNN, Russia blamed Ukraine for renewed fighting in eastern Ukraine. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said this week that Russia was concerned about “Ukraine’s provocations”.

“So far, we can’t see signs indicating that the Ukrainian side wants to somewhat calm down, drop bellicose rhetoric hidden behind the talk about some imaginary threat and take control of its army units that are deployed directly along the contact line [in Donbass] and that often become a source of provocations,” he said.

But Ukraine warned of a series of Russian violations of the ceasefire, including two incidents of mortar fire and large-caliber machine gun fire that led to the death of the four Ukrainian soldiers last Friday.

What’s more, two Ukrainian soldiers were mortally wounded on April 5 by a Russian snipers.

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