MOSCOW, September 4 (RIA Novosti) - Upcoming US-Ukraine joint military drills that are going to be held in September in northwestern Ukraine have no connection with the current situation in the country, US State Department Spokesperson Jen Psaki said during press briefing.
“They are not being held in response to current events,” Psaki assured.
“They are annual, they are pre-planned and I think there was awareness of them,” Psaki added.
When one of the reporters asked a question on whether the State Department realizes that Russia may be concerned about these military exercises, as Ukraine is not even a member of NATO, Psaki responded that these exercises are pre-planned and are an important part of US’s cooperation with its allies, including Ukraine.
“I don’t think… I can’t change Russians' views, but I think that’s important context about why these are taking place and why we are continuing to participate. Wouldn’t it be odd if we cancelled them?” Psaki said.
Earlier this week, it was reported that Washington plans to go ahead with the Rapid Trident military exercise, scheduled to take place in western Ukraine later this month, despite the ongoing hostilities in southeastern Ukraine.
The Rapid Trident exercise is expected to involve up to 1,000 servicemen from NATO countries and other US allies. Originally scheduled to take place in July, at the Yavoriv training center near Ukraine's border with Poland, the exercise was put off until September 16-26 due to the Kiev government’s ongoing military operation against independence supporters in southeastern Ukraine.
However, Psaki refused to answer a question on why the drills are to take place now, while the situation in Ukraine has not stabilized yet.
The ongoing military operation in eastern Ukraine has already claimed the lives of more than 2,500 civilians and resulted in 6,000 injured, according to the latest figures from the United Nations.