Russia plans new military exercises near border with Ukraine

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Russian military officials said they plan to engage in a new series of military exercises near the Ukraine border in response to ongoing NATO training exercises in Poland.

About 150 U.S. military soldiers from the 173rd Airborne Brigade Combat Team are training with their Polish counterparts this week. Additional soldiers are headed to Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to conduct similar land-based exercises. Overall, 600 U.S. troops will rotate in and out of the countries for about a month.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said earlier today that the new round of military exercises were, in part, a response to the death of at least two pro-Russia insurgents in eastern Ukraine, according to the Associated Press. Although an exact figure is unknown, Russia is believed to have tens of thousands of troops stationed along the border it shares with Ukraine.

The escalation between Russia and NATO reached new heights Thursday when the head of the Russia-led Collective Security Treaty Organization announced that the organization planned to cut its ties with NATO.

CSTO Secretary General Nikolay Bordyuzha accused NATO of blackmailing the organization’s member states by “staging large-scale maneuvers, demonstrating force and doing its best to show its displeasure with the policy, according to the Belarusian Telegraph Agency. The agency is reporting that CSTO members plan to distance themselves from NATO’s allies and focus on strengthening their ties with other nations like China and Iran.

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