Ifax: Russia to hold paratrooper drills near Ukrainian border

This handout picture taken on Dec 10, 2021 and released by the Russian Defence Ministry shows servicemen of a motorised rifle division holding exercises at the Kadamovsky range in the southern Rostov region. (HANDOUT / RUSSIAN DEFENCE MINISTRY / AFP)

MOSCOW – Hundreds of Russian paratroopers will hold drills near the Ukrainian border this week, the Interfax news agency quoted Russia's defense ministry as saying on Thursday, amid a standoff between Moscow and the West over Kyiv's NATO aspirations.

Some 1,200 troops and over 250 vehicles and aircraft will be involved in the exercise that will be split between training grounds in Crimea and the nearby Krasnodar province.

Russia has sent the United States proposed dates for talks on security guarantees sought by Moscow, the RIA news agency cited the Russian foreign ministry as saying on Thursday, without specifying the schedule

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Interfax quoted the ministry as saying that the troops would simulate capturing an area as part of an offensive operation.

Russia has amassed tens of thousands of troops at staging posts close to Ukraine and demanded that its southern neighbor not be admitted to NATO and that no offensive weapons be deployed there or in other neighboring countries.

Meanwhile, Russia has sent the United States proposed dates for talks on security guarantees sought by Moscow, the RIA news agency cited the Russian foreign ministry as saying on Thursday, without specifying the schedule.

It quoted Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying that Moscow would accept no preliminary conditions for the talks.

Russia wants legally binding guarantees from Washington and NATO that the bloc will not accept Ukraine as a member or deploy troops and weapons there.

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Ukraine insists it has the right to join the alliance and says Moscow may be planning to invade it as Russia amasses troops near the countries' border.