The United States and NATO signaled their backing for Ukraine in ways that Moscow considers provocative
Russia staged military drills in the Black Sea, south of Ukraine, on Wednesday and said it needed to sharpen the combat-readiness of its conventional and nuclear forces because of heightened NATO activity near its borders.
Ukraine, which with its ally the United States, said it believes Russia may be preparing an invasion, staged exercises of its own near the border with Belarus.
The increase of military activity on both sides follows weeks of rising tension that raised the risk of war between the two neighbors, even though Russia denies aggressive intent and Western intelligence sources told Reuters they do not see any invasion as imminent.
The United States and NATO signaled their backing for Ukraine in ways that Moscow considers provocative, including through warship maneuvers this month in the Black Sea and a delivery of US patrol boats to the Ukrainian navy.
British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss told Reuters on Wednesday it would be "a grave mistake from Russia" to attack Ukraine.
Russian fighter planes and ships practiced repelling air attacks on naval bases and responding with air strikes during military drills on Wednesday in the Black Sea, Interfax reported.
Separately, the news agency quoted Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu as saying the need for Russia to further develop its armed forces was dictated by "the complicated military and political conditions in the world and the growing activity of NATO countries near Russia's borders."
He said raising the armed forces' capabilities, supporting the combat readiness of nuclear forces and strengthening the potential of non-nuclear deterrence were among the priorities.