MOSCOW - Russia reportedly announced new military exercises involving bombers and fighter jets on Monday in a show of strength near the border with Ukraine. An air force spokesman was quoted by Interfax news agency as saying more than 100 planes and helicopters would take part in the maneuvers from Monday until Friday in its central and western districts. The spokesman, Igor Klimov, said the exercises were the first in a series to improve coordination in the military and made no mention of Ukraine, where pro-Russian rebels are fighting Ukrainian government forces.
The move is likely to alarm Western powers which have accused Russia of beefing up the number of troops along its border with Ukraine and arming the rebels in eastern Ukraine. Moscow denies supplying the rebels with weapons. Klimov said aircraft such as Su-27 and MiG-31 fighter jets would be used in the exercises and the aircraft would conduct missile practice. Russia's Defense Ministry could not immediately be reached for comment. The West has criticized Russia for staging earlier military exercises near Ukraine.