The escalation of the situation in Ukraine and increased foreign military presence near the Russian border have prompted certain adjustments in the work of the command of the Southern Military District, Russian Defence Minister Army Gen Sergey Shoygu announced today at the latest meeting of the defence ministry’s board.

“One of the priority tasks has become the deployment of a fully-fledged and self-sufficient group of forces in the Crimean direction. The military and political situation in the southwestern strategic direction has changed significantly since the beginning of this year,” the minister said.

“This is largely due to the expansion of the territory of the SMD after Crimea’s integration into Russia. In addition, the situation in Ukraine has sharply escalated and foreign military presence in the immediate vicinity of our borders has increased. This situation has prompted some adjustments in the daily work of the command of the district,” Shoygu stressed.

He said that the participants in the board meeting would discuss how the SMD is implementing its plan activities for the period to 2020 “taking into account measures to ensure the security of the Russian Federation on the territory of the Crimean Federal District”. The commander of the SMD, Colonel-General Aleksandr Galkin will report on the work done in the district, the defence minister said.

Ukraine concerned about Russia’s plans to boost Crimea troops

The Ukrainian Foreign Ministry has expressed concern over Russian Defence Minister Sergey Shoygu’s statement today on deploying a “fully-fledged and self-reliant military group in the Crimean direction”.

“By creating a ‘grey zone’, which is de-facto not covered by international agreements on arms control, on a part of Ukraine’s sovereign territory, the Russian Federation continues to step up military presence in Crimea and create a strike group with unclear tasks. The reasons for such military preparations announced by the Russian minister – an increase in the foreign military presence close to Russian borders and the escalation of the situation in Ukraine – do not stand up to criticism, especially amid the cease-fire in Donetsk and Luhansk regions,” the Foreign Ministry said in a statement published this evening.

“We are calling on the Russian Federation to stop provocative actions threatening Ukraine’s sovereignty, territorial integrity and peace in the region,” the statement stressed.

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