On Friday the Kremlin said it's observed NATO increasing air reconnaissance flights over the Black Sea, according to defense sources cited in Interfax and TASS news agencies.
"In the past 24 hours, several reconnaissance planes were detected above the Black Sea. There is no more doubt that the United States is exploring the region as a possible theater of war," TASS cites Russian officials as saying.
And further: "The US and NATO have conducted an aerial operation in the Black Sea region, sources in the Russian Defense Ministry told the newspaper. A refueling aircraft has been deployed to the region, which made it possible for planes to remain in the air almost the entire day."
The Russian media reports say the US build-up is related to tensions over Belarus and Ukraine. This week has seen a full-blown crisis emerge at EU crossings on the Poland-Belarus border, also as Lithuania and Latvia also send additional troops and police to secure their borders as thousands of Middle East migrants are seeking entry from the Belarus side.
Currently, US and NATO allies, along with non-NATO forces from Ukraine, are also conducting naval drills in the Black Sea, led by two US warships. "According to the sources, the operation also involved the Ukrainian Armed Forces as Ukraine's Bayraktar drones were seen in the areas where NATO's aircraft conducted their flights," TASS continues, nothing increased US and Western assistance to Ukrainian forces. "The Russian Defense Ministry (MoD) stated earlier that NATO countries had stepped up activities involving their naval forces, aerial and maritime reconnaissance means."
Not only has Russia within the past couple days sent a pair of long-range bombers over Belarus in a show of support to the Alexander Lukashenko government, but on Friday the Kremlin ordered Russian paratroopers to deploy to Belarus as part of continued joint operations.
"On November 12, a Russian paratrooper unit will land on an unknown site on the territory of the Grodno region in the Republic of Belarus as part of a surprise combat readiness inspection of the Airborne Force and take part in a joint tactical exercise with units of the Belarusian armed forces," Russia's defense ministry said in a statement.
Media fresh US media reports have alleged Russia has resumed building up troops near eastern Ukraine...
Bloomberg piece on US warning to Europeans of possible Russian plans to invade #Ukraine.— Joyce Karam (@Joyce_Karam) November 12, 2021
Happening in parallel of EU crisis with Belarus over migrants, with Russian backing to Minsk: https://t.co/YHJGLGq6T9
"Russian Il-76 military transport aircraft took off from airfields in Russia and flew to Belarus to airdrop the paratroopers," the statement added. The operation is being described as checking the readiness status of "quick reaction forces" of Russia and Belarus, both which cooperate closely.
The Russian MoD condemned the ongoing US and NATO presence in the Black Sea in fresh statements Friday, saying, "We view the US aggressive military activity in the Black Sea region as a threat to regional security and strategic stability." It underscored that "the true goal of the US actions unprovoked by Russia are to study the theater of military operations in case of the use-of-force scenario in the southeast."