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Ukraine, NATO announce joint military drills to counter rising Russian military activity  

Kyiv/Brussels: A Russian analyst had warned that a pan-European war or a World War could erupt in the wake of military action on the Ukraine-Russia border. NATO and Ukraine appear to have taken steps to make this warning a reality as they announced military exercise ‘Cossack Mace’. More than a thousand troops from five NATO member countries, including the UK, will participate in the training. Earlier, Russia had said that it would take “necessary measures” if NATO made further deployments to Ukraine. Therefore, Russia may give an equally aggressive response to the joint military drills.  

Russia has stepped up activities on the Ukraine border in the wake of its tensions with the United States and Europe. Russia deployed 4,000 troops near the Ukrainian border. At the same time, it has also sent the S-400 advanced missile system, helicopters, tanks and armoured vehicles to the Ukrainian border. Photographs and videos of the military movements have been published in the media as well. Russia has claimed that the deployment was for military exercises, clarifying that it was not intended to intimidate anyone.  

However, NATO and Ukraine have begun to take action against Russia’s deployment, and the announcement of the Cossack Mace exercise appears a part of the strategy. The Ukrainian Defense Ministry has released information about the drills. “The exercise will focus on tactics and actions for responding to aggression by a hostile neighbour. More than 1,000 troops from at least five NATO member states, including the UK, are expected to take part in it,” according to a statement released by Ukraine, which Britain has confirmed.  

In addition to the Cossack Mace exercise, Ukraine is expected to hold six military exercises with NATO member states in the next few months. It includes drills with the United States, the UK, Romania and Poland. Besides, Ukraine imposed sanctions on Russia ahead of its announcement for the war games.  

The sanctions target Russia’s international cooperation agency, along with its companies. The move prompted a reaction from Russia, where Russian Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said in a statement that the country would take action in response to the sanctions. Before the new sanctions, the Ukrainian government had also decided to ban pro-Russian media.  

Meanwhile, a Ukrainian soldier was killed in a landmine blast near the city of Donetsk on Saturday. Ukraine has claimed that four of its soldiers were also killed in a skirmish in Donbass on the Russia-Ukraine border last week. Remarkably, as many as 14,000 people have been killed and over 1.4 million displaced in conflict ongoing in eastern Ukraine since 2014. 

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