Ukraine to hold joint military drills with NATO amid escalating tensions with Russia

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Kyiv [Ukraine] April 4, (ANI): Ukraine announced on Saturday (local time) that it will hold joint military drills with NATO troops later this year amid escalating violence with pro-Russian separatists in the eastern part of the country.

The armed forces said in a statement on Facebook that the drills will be held with over 1,000 military personnel from at least five NATO member states in a few months as reported by The Hill.

"In particular, defensive actions will be worked out, followed by an offensive in order to restore the state border and territorial integrity of a state that has been subjected to aggression by one of the hostile neighbouring countries," the statement said, in an apparent reference to Russia.

An exact date for the drills was not provided, reported The Hill.

Moscow had pre-emptively rebuked any potential deployment of NATO personnel to Ukraine, warning that it would ramp up pressure along the border between the two countries.

But pressure has already ramped up along the border, with Russia building up its military presence on its side of the barrier. Fighting also increased with separatists backed by Moscow in eastern Ukraine, spelling the potential end to a ceasefire in the Donetsk Region.

The Ukrainian Parliament this week put out a statement declaring an "escalation" along the front, citing a "significant increase in shelling and armed provocations by the armed forces of the Russian Federation."

Ukraine, which represents NATO's frontline in eastern Europe against Russian expansion, pressed Western governments to "continue and increase international political and economic pressure on Russia," reported The Hill.

Ukraine and Russia have been embroiled in a deadly conflict since Russian forces annexed Crimea in 2014. Moscow continues to support separatist rebels fighting in Ukraine's eastern Donbas region. (ANI)