Ukrainian military has fired 16 surface to air missiles during its two days military drills conducted in its Kherson region that borders Crimea.
“We’ve received the first reports about the success of the launches carried out this morning,” Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko said. “These latest exercises involved combat and transport aircraft, as well as divisions of anti-aircraft and radar troops.” Poroshenko was quoted as saying by Russia Today Thursday.
Meanwhile Russia, apart from putting air defense units on alert, deployed warships along the west coast of crimea. However, the Russian government has called the drills a “dangerous precedent” and initially threatened to shoot down the missile, The Telegraph reported.
“Air defence crews imitated combat launches of surface to air missiles at aerial targets - unmanned aerial vehicles that mimic the flight of cruise missiles,” the Ukrainian defence ministry said in a statement.
Ukraine issued a warning earlier this week defining an area of the Black Sea that aircraft should avoid on Thursday and Friday. The announcement drew condemnation from the Kremlin which accused Ukraine of stoking tensions around the disputed territory.
The exercise "violates the territorial sea borders of the Russian Federation" and cautioned that if necessary it would shoot down the missiles, The Russian defense ministry said in a note handed to the Ukrainian defence attaché in Moscow.
The exercises were taking place at least 30 km (18 miles) from Crimea's air space in accordance with international law, "therefore it would be wrong to reproach Ukraine". Volodymyr Kryzhanovsky, a Ukrainian military official, said.