The Russian-backed Ukrainian government says it is planning to hold a military exercise in the country for as long “as necessary”.
“This will continue for as much as necessary, we can’t allow any more delays, because this is an urgent task and it is absolutely necessary,” Ukraine’s military chief, General Valery Gerasimov, told journalists in the Russian city of Tula on Monday.
Ukrainian officials say the drill will take place on Wednesday, and will involve “up to 100,000 troops, artillery and air defence systems”.
The country’s interim government says the drills will also include the use of air defence missile systems and air support units.
Ukraine has also said it is preparing to send troops to Crimea to bolster pro-Russian forces in the peninsula.
Russian forces have since seized the Black Sea peninsula, a key gateway to the EU.
In a statement on Monday, Russia’s Defense Ministry said the military exercise was being organised “for the protection of the Russian-speaking people in Crimea”.
The Kremlin said the drills were “necessary to protect the interests of Russian citizens in the Black and Caucasian Sea region”.
Russia says the exercise will be the first since the Crimean referendum on Crimea’s future status in March, and is being organised as part of a “strategic offensive” against Ukraine.
In recent months, Russia has been accused of backing pro-Moscow rebels in eastern Ukraine, where pro-EU protesters have occupied government buildings and barricaded themselves against a government-backed offensive.