Ukraine-Russia crisis: as Moscow issues threats, Joe Biden blinks first

The US Navy destroyers Porter and Roosevelt, due to arrive in the Black Sea on Thursday in response to the Russian military build-up on its borders with Ukraine, have been recalled following threats from Moscow.

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov had earlier warned the two keep their distance, saying the risk of unspecified incidents was very high.

There is absolutely nothing for American ships to be doing near our shores, this is purely a provocative action. Provocative in the direct sense of the word: they are testing our strength, playing on our nerves. They will not succeed. We warn the United States that it will be better for them to stay far away from Crimea and our Black Sea coast. It will be for their own good.

Sergei Ryabkov, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister.

Russia says the military build-up, which may involve around 80,000 ground troops, as well and air and naval forces, is a three-week snap military drill to test combat readiness in response to alleged threatening behaviour from NATO. It has said the exercise is due to wrap up within two weeks.

On Wednesday Russia's navy began a drill in the Black Sea that rehearsed firing at surface and air targets. NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg called on Moscow on Tuesday to end its troop build-up.

Meanwhile, Ukraine is also holding its own land-based drills with infantry and tank units rehearsing their defence against a tank and troop attack along the border with illegally-annexed Ukraine.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has called for the "worrying" developments in eastern Ukraine's Donbass region to come to an end.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called on Russia to pull back troops from Ukrainian borders, and US President Joe Biden on Wednesday, in a phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, proposed a summit of the estranged leaders to tackle disputes and told Moscow to reduce tensions over Ukraine, the White House said.

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Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright

Gary Cartwright is publishing editor and Brussels correspondent of EU Today.

An experienced journalist and author, he specialises in environment, energy, and defence.

He also has more than 10 years experience of working as a staff member in the EU institutions, working with political groups and MEPs in various policy areas.

Gary's latest book WANTED MAN: THE STORY OF MUKHTAR ABLYAZOV: A Manual for Criminals on How to Avoid Punishment in the EU is currently available from Amazon

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