Ukraine lines up military drills with Nato troops ‘to restore territorial integrity’

Announcement comes after major build-up of Russian soldiers near eastern Ukraine

A service member of the Ukrainian armed forces is seen at fighting positions on the line of separation near the rebel-controlled city of Donetsk, Ukraine April 3, 2021. REUTERS/Serhiy Takhmazov
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Ukraine’s armed forces on Saturday said joint military drills with Nato troops would begin within months, a step that could increase tension with Moscow.

The drills will involve more than 1,000 military personnel from at least five Nato member states, the Ukrainian Armed Forces said on Saturday.

“In particular, defensive actions will be worked out, followed by an offensive in order to restore the state border and territorial integrity of a state that has been subjected to aggression by one of the hostile neighbouring countries,” it said.

It did not specify when the drills would take place.

Nato voiced concern on Thursday over what it said was a major Russian military build-up near eastern Ukraine.

Moscow said a serious escalation in the conflict in the Donbass region could destroy Ukraine.

On Friday, the Kremlin said any movement of Nato troops into Ukraine would lead to further tension near Russia’s borders and force Moscow to take measures to ensure its own security.

Ukrainian troops have battled Russian-backed separatist forces in eastern Donbass since 2014.

In the latest attack, a Ukrainian soldier was killed when a bomb exploded near the village of Shumy, north of the separatists’ de facto capital, Donetsk, the Ukrainian Army said.

Moscow has repeatedly denied sending troops and arms to back up the separatists.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Thursday that Moscow was at liberty to move troops across its territory.