Ukraine’s acting President Oleksandr Turchynov has reportedly asked the parliament to approve a set of military exercises with NATO, a move that could place US troops in direct proximity with Russian forces in Crimea.
Turchynov said Ukraine is willing to conduct two sets of joint military drills with the US this summer, according to news reports on Wednesday.
He added that Kiev also plans an additional exercise with NATO member, Poland, as well as a joint ground operation with Moldova and Romania.
Turchynov’s request from parliament came after Russia’s military chief of staff General Valery Gerasimov announced that his forces are now in complete control of all military bases that Ukraine had in the Black Sea region of Crimea.
Turchynov’s request, if approved, would bring US and European Union (EU) troops into close proximity with the Russian military in Crimea.
Earlier last week, NATO member states and their partner nations, including Ukraine, began two weeks of military exercises at the Novo Selo training facility in eastern Bulgaria.
US Army’s Europe spokesperson, Jesse Granger, said the drills were planned before the renewed tensions between Russia and the West, and that they aimed at increasing regional flexibility, preserving and enhancing NATO interoperability, and facilitating multinational training.
Tensions between the Western powers and Moscow heightened after Crimea declared independence from Ukraine and formally applied to become part of the Russian Federation following a referendum on March 16, in which nearly 97 percent of Crimeans voted for union with Russia.
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