Russia v Ukraine: Crisis looms as Kiev teams up with NATO for drills – Putin sent warning

Russia v Ukraine: Crisis looms as Kiev teams up with NATO for drills – Putin sent warning

Russia’s President  and stoke already heightened tensions with Moscow, which has expressed its opposition to the idea. Meanwhile, Tory MP Daniel Kawczynski – who was born in neighbouring Poland – warned Mr Putin was testing the resolve of the West by sending  to Ukraine’s borders, as well as criticising the proposed  gas pipeline deal between Russia and Germany.

NATO voiced concern on Thursday over what it said was a big Russian military build-up near eastern Ukraine after Russia warned a serious escalation in the conflict in Ukraine’s Donbass region could “destroy” the country.

The Kremlin on Friday said any deployment of NATO troops to Ukraine would lead to further tensions near Russia’s borders and force Moscow to take extra measures to ensure its own security

Ukrainian troops have battled Russian-backed separatist forces in the eastern Donbass region in a conflict Kiev estimates has killed 14,000 people since 2014.

The drills will involve more than 1,000 military personnel from at least 5 NATO member states and will be held in a few months, the Ukrainian armed forces said in a statement on Facebook on Saturday.

It explained: “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 did not specify exactly when the drills would take place.

Videos circulating on social media have shown large numbers of Russia tanks and other military vehicles on roads close to Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia.

Another clip showed scores more vehicles on a train, purportedly heading for Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Mr Kawczynski, MP for Shrewsbury and Atcham, told Mr Putin was “testing our resolve and our unity”.

He added: “Russia’s ongoing aggression is of genuine concern to Britain and many others.

“Regrettably this behaviour is being overlooked and indeed rewarded by Germany in the form of Nordstream 2 pipeline.

“This vital artery will give greater access for the export of Russian gas to Europe.

“It is deeply shameful that Britain is not implementing sanctions on this project at a time of growing tensions with Russia.”

On Friday, Dominic Raab confirmed he had discussed the situation with Ukraine’s Foreign Minister on Friday.

The Foreign Secretary tweeted: “I reaffirmed UK support for Ukraine’s sovereignty & territorial integrity in my call with @DmytroKuleba today.

“We are gravely concerned about Russian military activity which threatens Ukraine #CrimeaisUkraine.”

Also speaking on Friday, Russian presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters: “Our rhetoric over Donbass is absolutely constructive.

“We do not indulge in wishful thinking. Regrettably, the realities along the engagement line are rather frightening.

“Provocations by the Ukrainian armed forces do take place.

“They are not casual. There have been many of them.”