NATO’s escalating military activity on Ukrainian soil and in the Black Sea and the increasing number of joint military drills do not contribute to settling the conflict in the Donbass region, Russian Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova told a briefing on Friday.
"Overall, seven joint drills with NATO countries are planned on the territory of Ukraine this year, which means that particular maneuvers take place every six or eight weeks. All this does not contribute to the intra-Ukrainian settlement. The Contact Group’s latest session held on May 19 once again demonstrates the absence of any desire by Kiev’s negotiators to search for a compromise and act in compliance with the letter and the spirit of the Minsk accords," the Russian diplomat pointed out, TASS reports.
The Russian Foreign Ministry shed light on last week’s security forum held in Kiev, where members of the Ukrainian leadership who were among its participants, outlined preparations for the fight against the non-existent Russian threat as the country’s main task in this sphere, Zakharova said.
"The recent demands by [Ukrainian President Vladimir] Zelensky to keep the 2021-2022 defense spending at no less than 5% of Ukraine’s GDP also fit into this policy. Today, Ukraine spends $7.5 billion on its military preparations annually and ranks first in the world as far as the pace of military expenditures is concerned," the spokeswoman stressed.
"These militaristic plans by Kiev go hand in hand with NATO’s build-up on the territory of Ukraine and in the Black Sea. As you know, the alliance has kicked off the Defender Europe 21 exercise, the largest drills in the past 25 years that involve 28,000 troops from NATO countries and its allies," the diplomat pointed out.