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Russia Says It's Ended Military Drills Criticized By U.S.

Russia's Defense Ministry said on August 8 it has finished military exercises in southern Russia which the United States has criticized as a "provocative" step amid the Ukraine crisis.

The Defense Ministry said that aircraft taking part in the exercises have been redeployed from temporary to their permanent bases, and antiaircraft missile units were also preparing to leave for their permanent positions.

It said the drills in the southern Astrakhan region 1,000 kilometers from the border with Ukraine has shown a "high level of cohesiveness" among troops.

The NATO military alliance says Russia has massed 20,000 troops near the border with Ukraine where government troops are fighting pro-Russian separatists in the east of the country.

Based on reporting by Reuters and Interfax