Russia Starts Military Drills over Situation in UkraineDefense | April 24, 2014, Thursday // 17:36| views
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Photo by EPA/BGNES
The Russian army has started military drills in response to the situation in the southeast of Ukraine, its Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Thursday.
The exercises are to be carried out at the country's border with Ukraine, where "balance of forces is uneven", as Shoigu was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying.
"It was already allowed [by Ukraine] to use weapons against civilians. If Ukraine's military machine is not stopped today, there will be many killed and injured.
Starting NATO drills on Poland and Baltic countries' territories does not contribute to the normalization in Ukraine," Russia's Defense Minister added.
He also claimed that a total of 11 000 Ukrainian forces, 160 tanks and 230 armored vehicles were currently piled up in Eastern Ukraine as part of the special operation against pro-Russian separatists.
Shoigu's words come amid new episodes of violence in Slaviansk, where five pro-Russian rebels were killed during a raid by Kiev forces seeking to regain control of the town.
Citing high-ranking defense officials in Kiev, Ukraine's KyivPost has however reported that the operation in Slaviansk has come to an end.