MOSCOW: According to Russia's Western Military District, a total of 20 Russian warships and support vessels have entered designated areas of the Baltic Sea to conduct exercises.
The Russian Baltic Fleet's ships, organised in several tactical groups, will conduct anti-submarine, air defence, and mine-sweeping missions, the statement added on Monday.
The drills come as the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) prepares to deploy additional forces and ships and fighter jets to Eastern Europe in response to the escalation of tensions in and around Ukraine, according to reports.
Earlier on Monday, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stated that the Russian military cannot ignore the expansion of NATO military operations in Eastern Europe.
Sergei Ryabkov, Russia's Deputy Foreign Minister, argued that the restrictions on foreign naval ships were consistent with international agreements, arguing that it is standard practise to restrict areas used for military drills. In remarks carried by Russian news agencies, he emphasised that the restrictions would have no effect on commercial shipping.