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NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky during a press conference in October 2019. Photo: Sergei Supinsky/AFP via Getty Images

Ukraine said Saturday that joint military exercises with NATO troops may begin in a few months, Reuters reports.

Why it matters: Russia, which supports separatist forces battling Ukraine's military in the Donbass region, said Friday it strongly opposes the drills and will "have to take additional measures" if NATO deploys troops to eastern Ukraine.

Context: The announcement of the exercises comes amid rising tensions between Russia and Ukraine.

  • Ukraine has been fighting Russian-backed separatists since Russia illegally invaded and annexed Crimea in 2014, which lead to the rise of anti-government separatist groups in the Donbass region of Ukraine.
  • The war in eastern Ukraine recently escalated after the Ukrainian military said four of its soldiers were killed during a battle against Russian-backed separatists on March 26.
  • Kyiv also accused Moscow of building up military forces near the joint border, though Russia has downplayed the build up.

The big picture: In his first phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday, President Biden "affirmed the United States’ unwavering support for Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity in the face of Russia’s ongoing aggression," according to the White House.

  • The upcoming drills will involve more than 1,000 military personnel from at least 5 NATO member states, but Ukraine's military did not say specifically when they will occur, according to Reuters.

Go deeper

Apr 2, 2021 - World

Biden holds first call with Ukraine's Zelensky as Russia tensions escalate

Photo: Sergii Kharchenko/NurPhoto via Getty Images

President Biden spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky on Friday for the first time since taking office, as U.S. and NATO officials warn of a Russian military buildup near eastern Ukraine that could ignite the long-simmering conflict, according to the White House.

Why it matters: It took more than two months for Biden to speak directly with the president of Ukraine, a key frontline partner in eastern Europe that has been pleading for more help from the West in its fight against Russian aggression.

Russian court fines Twitter for not removing protest posts

Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on April 1. Photo: Alexei Druzhinin\TASS via Getty Images

A Russian court on Friday found Twitter guilty of three counts of violating regulations on restricting unlawful content and fined the company 8.9 million rubles (about $117,000) for not removing posts that encouraged minors to take part in unauthorized protests, according to AP.

Why it matters: The fine comes amid a broad crackdown on the social media company in the country. In March, Russian authorities threatened to ban the platform entirely if the company did not remove some 3,000 posts containing content the government had deemed illegal.

Toyota to build $1.3 billion U.S. battery plant in North Carolina

The all-electric Toyota bZ4X, the company's first battery-electric vehicle, at the Los Angeles Auto Show in Los Angeles, California on Nov. 17. Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images

Toyota announced Monday it's investing $1.3 billion to construct an electric vehicle battery "megasite" near Greensboro, North Carolina, set to open in 2025.

Why it matters: Toyota's Prius hybrid won environmental plaudits when it launched in 1997, but it has since lost ground to electric vehicle world leader Tesla, per Axios' Joann Muller. This battery plant will be the first to produce automotive batteries for Toyota in North America.