Russia warns Ukraine against joining Nato as it launches military drills across border

September 4th, 2014 by Staff

( - Russia warned Ukraine over increased cooperation with Nato on Thursday as it launched another round of military exercises in the south of the country involving fighter jets, naval forces and missile systems.

Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that moves to include Ukraine in Nato would “derail” any peace negotiations between Kiev and separatist fighters in the east of the country.

“Some of our Western partners including, unfortunately, the most influential player – the United States, want Nato to be victorious and want to see a situation win out where America dictates to everyone,” Lavrov said, according to Russian news agencies.

Lavrov’s remarks came as Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko was due to meet Nato leaders ahead of a summit in Wales.

Russia began military exercises to the north of the Caspian Sea on Thursday around the cities of Volgograd and Astrakhan, about 300 miles from the country’s border with Ukraine.

The drills, which are due to last until the end of the week, will see the deployment of the latest rocket systems, including the Buk missile systems that are suspected of having been used to bring down Malaysian Airways Flight MH17 over eastern Ukraine in July.

Units from Russia’s Caspian Fleet and aircraft and helicopters will also take part.

Fighting in eastern Ukraine appeared not to be letting up, despite an apparent agreement between Poroshenko and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Separatist fighters were using mortars and howitzers against Ukrainian troops defending Donetsk airport, Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported, citing one of their journalists on the ground.

The airport has been the scene of heavy fighting in recent weeks, with reports that Ukrainian forces have been encircled by the Russian-backed rebel

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