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Commenting on the combat aviation drills, which Russia launched on Monday in the Central and Western Military Districts and, particularly, at the Ashuluk firing range in the country’s southern Astrakhan region, Psaki said “Well, we are deeply concerned by Russia’s plan to conduct a large military aviation exercise this week in areas bordering Ukraine.”
“Exercises of this kind are provocative and only serve to escalate tensions,” she added addressing a daily press briefing in Washington on Monday.
The spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry said “the Ashuluk firing range in the Astrakhan region is located almost 1,000 kilometers [over 620 miles] away from the Russian-Ukrainian border.”
People at the Defense Ministry “are absorbed with reading recent statements of the US Department of State’s spokeswoman on Russia’s current Air Force drills in the Astrakhan region and voice concerns over the lack of basic geography knowledge expressed by Jen Psaki,” the spokesman said.
“This is why in preparations of such statements and before thrilling the international society, it would be useful not only to study information from social networks, but to turn to official sources as well, such as the Russian Defense Ministry’s website and geographical atlas,” he added.
Russia launched on Monday five-day Air Force combat drills, which involve a total of over 100 fighter jets, bombers and helicopters.
According to Colonel Igor Klimov, a spokesman for the Russian Air Force, “the drills involve 100 planes and helicopters such as Su-27 Flanker fighter jets, MiG-31 Foxhound fighter jets, multipurpose Su-34 Fullback fighter-bombers, Su-24 Fencer bombers, as well as Mi-8, Mi-24 and Mi-28N combat helicopters.”
The combat aircraft practices shooting at targets on land and in the air at new firing ranges as well as conducting launches of anti-aircraft missiles at the Ashuluk firing range in the southern Astrakhan region.