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Russia announced on Thursday it had started military exercises near the border with Ukraine in what is likely to be seen as a show of force in the standoff with Kiev and the West over Crimea. Separately, the ministry said Russia had sent six Su-27 jet fighters and three military transport planes to ally Belarus, responding to a request prompted by joint U.S.-Polish exercises in NATO nation Poland, Interfax reported. The Defence Ministry confirmed exercises had begun in the Southern Military District near the Ukrainian border, involving 8,500 artillery men. The exercise includes a large number of artillery and Grad (Hail), Hurricane and Tornado multiple-rocket launchers, the Defence Ministry said in a statement on its website.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx on Thursday said his agency was looking into whether General Motors was slow to report to the federal government problems with ignition switches in its autos, which has led to 12 deaths. "The questions we are asking are whether there was a timeliness issue" with GM bringing the problem to the attention of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Foxx told a U.S. Senate hearing. Foxx said if there are delays in the industry reporting problems, the Transportation Department will respond in a "very, very tough" manner.