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Russian paratroopers to hold drills near Ukrainian border

The Interfax news agency quoted Russia’s defense ministry Thursday as saying hundreds of paratroopers from the country will train near the Ukrainian border this week amid an impasse between Moscow and the west over Kyiv’s plans to join NATO. 

Some 1200 troops and over 250 vehicles and aircraft will be involved in the exercise that will be split between training grounds in Crimea (which was captured by Russia in 2014) and the nearby Kransnodar province.  

There have been tens of thousands of Russian troops gathered at staging posts in the vicinity of Ukraine and the country has demanded its southern neighbour not be admitted to NATO and that no offensive weapons be deployed there or in other neighbouring countries. 

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

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