Russia’s defense ministry released video Friday of its warships firing rockets during military drills in the Black Sea, the Reuters news agency reported Friday.
The drills were conducted earlier this week amid rising tensions between Russia and the west over Russia’s military buildup near the border it shares with Ukraine.
Russia said the troop buildup was part of drills it planned in response to what it said was NATO’s threatening behavior. Last week, Russia ordered a pullback of some troops from the border area.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken is scheduled to meet with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy during a May 5-6 visit to Ukraine “to reaffirm unwavering U.S. support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression,” Blinken’s spokesman, Ned Price, said in a statement.
Russia began naval combat drills Tuesday as the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Hamilton was entering the Black Sea to work with NATO and other allies in the area.
Russia’s Black Sea fleet said its Moskva cruiser would participate in live-fire exercises with other Russian ships and military helicopters, according to Russia’s Interfax news agency.
The drill took place as fighting in eastern Ukraine between Ukrainian forces and Russian-backed troops escalated sharply since January, despite a cease-fire that took effect last July.
The conflict began when Russia annexed Crimea from Ukraine in 2014, since killing some 14,000 people, according to Ukraine’s government.