Ukrainian missile tests won't affect Russian airline routes

April AlvarezDec 02, 2016

The Russian Black Sea Fleet occupied positions along the western Crimean coastline to defend regional airspace in the course of Ukraine's planned two-day missile launches, a uniformed services source in Crimea told RIA Novosti.

The drills involve the test firing of medium-range surface-to-air missiles, the news agency said.

Ukrainian military official Volodymyr Kryzhanovsky said the exercises were taking place at least 30 kilometres from Crimea's air space.

Russia's Foreign Ministry on November 30 called the planned missile tests a "new large-scale provocation", saying they were aimed at "escalating the conflict between Ukraine and Russian Federation".

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"These tests and exercises were very important to us, as this is a very serious step towards the recovery of the air system of our country", Turchinov also said.

"And no one will stop us", he is quoted as saying.

But Moscow last week arrested an alleged Ukrainian military spy in Crimea and accused Kiev of abducting two Russian servicemen from the region.

The disagreement marked a fresh escalation in tensions between the neighbours and one-time allies, whose relations collapsed after Russia seized Crimea and backed pro-Russian separatists fighting in eastern Ukraine.

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Moscow's messages stressed that the "tests supposedly violate the sovereignty of Russian Federation and worldwide law", Betsa was quoted as saying.

Russia's foreign ministry said on Thursday (Dec 1) Ukrainian missile tests near Crimea were a "dangerous precedent", Interfax news agency reported.

The head of the southern branch of Ukraine's military, Vladimir Kryzhanovsky, said: "Everything is going according to plan". A spokesman for Ukraine's defense ministry said Wednesday that the exercises will take place despite threats from Russian Federation.

Secretary of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov voiced his hopes in a November 30 interview that President-elect Donald Trump will provide Ukraine with lethal weapons while in office, Interfax reported.

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