Russia on Saturday held a wide-ranging exercise involving strategic forces amid growing tensions in eastern Ukraine.

Russian President Vladimir Putin gave the instruction to start the drill and personally oversaw the launch of ballistic missiles as part of the exercises, along with his Belarussian counterpart Alexander Lukashenko, from the Kremlin.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Russian Aerospace Forces, Southern Military District, Strategic Missile Forces, and the Northern and Black Sea fleets participated in the drill.

The participating forces carried out training strikes with hypersonic and ballistic missiles from the ground, air, sea surface, and submarine positions, the statement said.

Noting that the exercise had been planned earlier, the statement said that it involved readiness checks for “military command and control bodies, launch combat crews, crews of warships and strategic missile carriers.”

It also included reliability controls for “weapons of strategic nuclear and non-nuclear forces,” the ministry added, noting that the tasks were “completed in full, all missiles hit their targets, confirming the specified characteristics.”

US President Joe Biden claimed on Friday that Russia is on the brink of invading Ukraine within “several days.”

Moscow has repeatedly denied any plan to invade Ukraine and accused Western countries of undermining Russia’s security through NATO’s expansion toward its borders.

It also issued a list of security demands to the West, including a rollback of troop deployments from some ex-Soviet states and guarantees that Ukraine and Georgia would not join NATO.

* Writing by Ahmet Gencturk

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