Moscow -

Coinciding with the escalation of tension between the West and Moscow over the crisis in Ukraine, and talk of a possible Russian invasion at any moment, Russian military exercises began in the waters of the Black Sea.

More than 30 warships, including missile destroyers, frigates, anti-submarine battleships, landing ships, submarines, coastal missile defense systems and the Air Force, are participating in these maneuvers, which were prepared in advance - but clashed over time with a Western diplomatic movement to defuse the crisis. of this month.

These maneuvers are taking place at a time when Russia and Belarus began last week a large-scale joint military exercise entitled "Allied Resolve", to work on strengthening border security, joint fighting in the event of external aggression, and repelling possible air attacks.

Shoigu: Maneuvers are taking place in the Western, Eastern and Central Military Districts (Getty Images)

intense workouts

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told President Vladimir Putin at a meeting that the Russian army is conducting exercises in almost all fleets and in all military districts, and stressed that "some of these exercises are coming to an end, and some will be completed in the near future."

According to the Russian minister, the "large-scale" exercises are taking place in the Barents Sea, the Black Sea, and the Baltic Sea, and the Pacific Fleet is also participating.

The maneuvers are being conducted in preparation for major naval exercises under the supervision of the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Navy.

The Russian Navy said that "Be-12 amphibious aircraft and Ka-27PL helicopters participated in the exercises, and their crews, in cooperation with small anti-submarine ships, conducted a joint search for a supposed submarine using sonar buoys and other sonar devices."

Russian tanks conduct exercises in the Rostov region (Reuters)

missions and tactics

The press service of the Black Sea Fleet explained that the main tasks in the framework of the exercises were joint actions for the search, continuous tracking and conditional destruction of a submarine at long and short distances, as well as the organization of a constant exchange of data on underwater maneuvers.

To create a real tactical situation, one of the submarines of the Black Sea Fleet acted as an imaginary enemy.

As part of the maneuvers, options were developed to respond to "the most diverse types of hostilities", including all environments, both under and above water.

In response to the Western media's positioning of the Russian maneuvers in the context of recent preparations for a military attack against Ukraine, Konstantin Kosachev, Vice-President of the Russian Federation Council, criticized what he described as the hysteria raised by Western countries over the military exercises conducted by Russia and said that these maneuvers will end according to the pre-established plan.

"There are no military preparations," Kosachev wrote on his Facebook page, describing President Putin's meeting with Defense Minister Shoigu as "the most important stage in the development of the Russian initiative on security guarantees and building a reliable security structure in Europe."

The Russian official added that Russia's messages to the West confirm that constructive dialogue can play a decisive role in stopping the escalation, noting that Russia is ready for dialogue, but the method of blackmail with it will certainly not succeed, as he put it.


counter maneuvers

The maneuvers also come after the Ukrainian Defense Ministry announced its military maneuvers from February 10 to 20, coinciding with the Russian-Belarusian maneuvers on February 12.

Kiev did not mention the number of soldiers participating in the maneuvers, but the president of the self-proclaimed Donetsk Republic, Denis Pushlin, said that the republic's intelligence had recorded an increase in the number of Ukrainian armed forces on the demarcation line amounting to 150 thousand personnel.

Russian military observers talk about a clear build-up of the Ukrainian strike force at the dividing lines with Donbass, comprising more than 70% of all military personnel in Ukraine, along with the deployment of missile launchers there.

Military expert Ivan Konovalov told Al Jazeera Net that, regardless of the circumstances surrounding the Ukrainian crisis, Russia is constantly working to keep all its forces on combat alert, and for this reason conducts military exercises and maneuvers periodically, but this does not mean that it will start a war, but rather prepares To respond if something happens.

But he noted that the magnitude and specificity of the current maneuvers should be enough for Ukraine to "think three times before escalation or carrying out military skirmishes in the Donbass."

Warning and hope

In response to a question that the statements issued by Kiev do not yet show that this warning is taken seriously, the Russian expert explained that Kiev still hopes to obtain more direct military support from the West.

Regarding the evacuation of nationals of European countries from Ukraine, especially the employees of diplomatic missions, Konovalov linked that to some in Europe, as a result of American propaganda, began to become convinced of the existence of a real threat.

Over the past 30 years in Europe, embassies have not been evacuated.

The Russian military expert believes that, through this, the West wants to emphasize that the situation is completely unprecedented, and to promote that Russia is helping to create this feeling, by concentrating its forces on the border with Ukraine.

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