WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Russia’s exercises in Crimea would compromise a peaceful resolution to the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, US Department of State spokesperson Jen Psaki said at a press briefing.
“Any Russian military exercises or weapons deployments in Crimea, which is part of Ukraine,would further undermine securing a peaceful diplomatic resolution to a crisis that Russia started with its forcible seizure and ongoing occupation,” Psaki said on Thursday.
The Russian military will deploy ten Tu-22M3 Backfire C supersonic strategic bombers to Crimea as part of the current large-scale snap inspection of combat readiness, a source in Russia’s Defense Ministry told RIA Novosti on Wednesday.
The source added that a large motorized infantry unit from the Central Military District will also be deployed to Crimea as part of the training exercises.
“We’ve seen various reports citing the possibility of weapons deployments. We don’t have confirmation independently of this,” Psaki noted.
The State Department spokesperson stressed that the United States recognizes the need for routine military training activity.
“Any such activity must be consistent with international law and conducted with due regard for the rights of other nations and the safety of other aircraft and vessel,” she said.
The snap inspection of the combat readiness of the Russia’s Northern Fleet as well as several units of Western, Southern and Eastern Military Districts began on March 16 and will last until Saturday.
In March 2014, Crimea seceded from Ukraine and joined Russia following a referendum in which as many as 96 percent of voters were in favour of reunification. The West, including the United States, refused to recognize Crimea as a part of Russia, arguing that the March referendum was illegal and violated Ukraine's territorial integrity.