Ukraine to hold joint military drills with NATO, EU

Kiev, April 1: The Ukrainian parliament Tuesday approved a bill to conduct joint military drills with NATO and the European Union (EU) partners.

With at least 226 votes needed to approve the bill, 235 lawmakers supported the legislation submitted by acting President Alexandr Turchynov, Xinhua reported.

The multinational exercises, which are scheduled to last from May to November, will involve around 2,500 troops from Ukraine and the same number of military personnel from the partner countries.

“The manoeuvre is aimed at preparing for participation in international peacekeeping, security, humanitarian and search operations on land and water, and in activities to protect our country,” acting Defence Minister Mykhailo Koval told parliament.

The land drills will be held at military training areas in Lvov and Zakarpattya regions in western Ukraine, while the sea drills will take place in the Black Sea waters at the southern Nikolayev region near the disputed Crimean peninsula.

In March, Crimean leaders signed a treaty with Russian President Vladimir Putin on the peninsula’s accession to Russia.

Kiev does not accept Crimea’s integration into Russia, considering it an “attempt to annex the Ukrainian territory”.