The West is keeping a close eye on the movements of the Russian military after it annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea.
Russia's Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said April 24 that military exercises featuring air and land forces have resumed on its border with Ukraine. Shoigu said Russia would intervene if it felt ethnic Russians in eastern Ukraine were under threat.
The exercises come in response to anti-terror operations carried out by the Ukraine military in eastern cities that have left five pro-Russia militants dead. Ukraine wants to prevent Russian forces taking control of its eastern regions as it did in Crimea.
A total of 600 U.S. troops will spend the a month carrying out military exercises in Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania amid tensions between Ukraine and Russia, the Pentagon said April 22. 150 U.S. Army paratroopers will begin exercises in Poland April 23 alongside Polish troops.
NATO released satellite images of the Russian-Ukrainian border on April 10, saying that data shows 40,000 Russian troops, as well as tanks and other weaponry, "at high readiness" near the border. NATO Sec. General Fogh Rasmussen reiterated on April 11 that Russia should withdraw its forces.
All 193 military installations in Crimea are flying Russian flags, according to Russia's military chief of staff. On March 25, Russian troops stormed the last remaining Ukrainian naval ship and took control of it. A day earlier, Ukraine's interim government ordered troops to withdraw from Crimea.
Russian forces achieved the annexation of Crimea with minimal loss of life. One Ukrainian soldier was killed in an attack on a base at Sevastopol March 18. Other seizures of military bases have been met with little opposition.
The Crimean situation began when ethnic Russians began protesting outside the Crimean parliament over the ouster of president Viktor Yanukovych. Forces from Russia's Black Sea Fleet moved moved in to secure the parliament, which subsequently voted to hold a referendum to leave Ukraine.
The White House released a statement on March 28 that Russian President Putin called President Obama to discuss a diplomatic solution to the situation in Ukraine. Obama urged Putin to pull back his troops from Ukraine's border and reiterated that the U.S. opposes actions violating Ukraine's sovereignty.
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