“This is a routine exercise, one of many we hold from time to time,” the news portal Krym wrote, citing Viktoria Shakula, the press secretary of the SBU’s regional directorate.
In an interview with Radio Sputnik, Russian military expert Oleg Glazunov said that the SBU exercise coincides with an international economic forum, currently underway in Yalta.
“First, the SBU exercise is meant to improve coordination between their various units. The Ukrainians haven’t resigned themselves to the loss of Crimea, and their subversive groups will be at work anyway to test our border guards’ and the Federal Security Service’s response to emergencies. Secondly, this is probably an attempt to intimidate foreigners who are taking part in the Yalta forum, and force them to move out,” he said.
Crimea seceded from Ukraine and rejoined Russia in March 2014, after a referendum determined that almost 97 percent of the region's population was in favor of the move.
The referendum was held after the February 2014 coup in Ukraine. Kiev, as well as the European Union, the United States and many of their allies, did not recognize the move and consider the peninsula to be an occupied territory.
Oleg Glazunov also said that Kiev will likely resort to all kinds of provocations in a bid to bring Crimea back into its fold.
“The people now in power in Kiev will never resign themselves to the loss of Crimea. I think that sooner or later they will try to claw it back. I don’t think this would be a direct military assault, rather something like a local Maidan ‘revolution,’ or subversive action. Their hatred of Russia is so intense that they will do everything possible to hurt us,” Glazunov emphasized.
This isn't the first time that Ukraine has held drills near the Russian border. In early December, the Ukrainian military held missile-firing exercises near Crimea, in violation of several international agreements.
Kiev was forced to cancel the drills following a warning from Moscow that Russia could take steps to respond, up to and including shooting down any missile that crossed into the peninsula's airspace.
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