© AP Photo/ Andrew Kanyshchev, file
An anti-aircraft defense missile C-75 launched by Ukrainian army
Kiev has begun missile launch drills near the border with Crimea, the Ukrainian military has announced.

"The launches have already begun, so everything is going according to plan," Vladimir Kryzhanovsky, the head of the southern branch of the Ukrainian military's press-service said on Thursday, as cited by TASS news agency.

He noted that the missiles will come as close as 30 kilometers to Crimean airspace.

Meanwhile, Russian ships from the Black Sea Fleet have taken up positions to the west of the Crimean Peninsula to provide air defense over Russian territory, RIA Novosti news agency reports, citing sources in the military.

Ukraine announced that it would be conducting missile-firing exercises close to Crimea in areas used by civil and state aviation flights earlier this week, warning that they would not be safe for flights. Later, it declared that adjacent areas, partly over neutral waters and partly over Russia's territorial waters in the Black Sea to the southwest and southeast to Crimea, would also be dangerous.

The Russian aviation agency said that Kiev's drills breach a number of international laws and agreements, noting that they had not been coordinated with Moscow.

Russia asked the authorities in Kiev to abstain from the exercises, but received no response, Russian transport minister Maksim Sokolov said earlier today, while noting that Moscow had also requested that the International Civil Aviation Organization declare Crimean airspace a danger zone, but that also went unanswered.