KYIV, Ukraine

Ukraine carried out a military exercise Thursday using air defense systems near the illegally-annexed Crimea.

The Ukrainian Armed Forces said 9K33 Osa model air defense systems were used in the exercise, which took place in the southern Kherson region on the border with Crimea.

The air defense system could detect targets up to 45 kilometers (27 miles) and destroy them from 10 kilometers (6 miles).

The Russian Defense Ministry announced it launched a military exercise with the participation of more than 10,000 soldiers near the border with Ukraine.

Russia, Ukraine and NATO have stepped up military exercises as tensions have intensified in recent weeks as Kyiv has openly accused Moscow of planning an invasion.

Russian forces entered the Crimean Peninsula in February 2014, with President Vladimir Putin formally dividing the region into two separate federal subjects of the Russian Federation the following month.

Turkey and the US, as well as the UN General Assembly, view the annexation as illegal.

According to the UN, fighting between the Ukrainian government forces and pro-Russian separatists in Donbas has seen more than 13,000 people killed since 2014.

The region is one of several sources of friction between Russia and Ukraine.

*Writing by Gozde Bayar

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