- Russian navy is holding snap live-fire drills in the Black Sea today amid escalating tensions around Ukraine
- Missile ships, frigate and minesweeper took part in drill with naval airplanes and helicopters, Russia said
- Ukraine’s defence minister accused Russia of preparing to store nuclear weapons in Crimea
- Comes as first of two US destroyers thought to be on the way to the Black Sea is expected to arrive today
- Meanwhile, Kremlin said it is ‘studying’ Joe Biden’s proposal for summit with Putin but has not yet accepted
- Pro-Kremlin mouthpiece Margarita Simonyan warned that war between two superpowers is ‘inevitable’
Ukraine has accused Moscow of preparing to store nuclear weapons in Crimea amid soaring tensions in the region as the first of two US warships is expected to arrive during live-fire drills from the Russian navy.
Ukrain’s defence minister Andrii Taran warned that Moscow could attack to ensure water supplies for the annexed peninsula and said he could not rule out a possibility that Russian forces in Crimea could ‘undertake substantive military provocations’ this year.
‘Crimea’s infrastructure is being prepared for potentially storing nuclear weapons,’ Taran told the European Parliament’s sub-committee on defence. ‘The very presence of nuclear munitions in the peninsula may spark a whole array of complex political, legal and moral problems.’
Taran provided no evidence for his assertion but said Russia was massing 110,000 troops on Ukraine’s border in 56 battalion-sized tactical groups, citing the latest Ukrainian intelligence.
His comments, ahead of an emergency NATO meeting with allied defence and foreign ministers, came as the Russian navy held snap live-fire drills in the Black Sea.
Two missile ships – the Graivoron and Vyshny Volochek – are taking part in sea-level and aerial target practice alongside the missile hovercraft Samum while accompanied by frigate Admiral Makarov and mine-sweeping ship Ivan Golubets, the Russian navy’s Black Sea fleet command said.