Putin Says No Need to Escalate Black Sea Tensions With NATO, Rejects Snap Drills


Russian President Vladimir Putin said in an interview broadcast on Sunday that he had rejected a defense ministry proposal to hold snap Black Sea military drills in response to NATO activity because he did not want to escalate tensions in the region.

Russia has complained about what it has called a dangerous increase in military activity by the United States and its allies in the Black Sea region with greater Western spy plane activity, more strategic bombers flights, and the presence of two U.S. warships.

Some of the activity has been taking place in the vicinity of Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014 and which Kyiv wants back.

Tensions are also high over what U.S. officials have called a worrying Russian military build-up near Ukraine and a migrant standoff between Belarus, a close ally of Russia, and the European Union.

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