Russia in largest military drills since Soviet era

Russia in largest military drills since Soviet era
Wed Jul 17, 2013 09:30:11

Russia is in the midst of its biggest war games since Soviet times, with 160,000 troops, 130 planes, 70 ships and thousands of tanks and armored vehicles participating in the country's Far East.

Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the drills last Friday and they began that night, according to reports from the RIA Novosti news agency.

Putin flew to Sakhalin Island off the eastern coast to oversee the games on Tuesday, Russia's presidential press service reported.

"The main purpose of the activities is to check the readiness of the military units to perform assigned tasks and evaluate of the level of personnel's training and technical preparation as well as the level of equipment of units with arms and military equipment," the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement.

Russia's deputy defense minister, Anatoly Antonov, said the games were designed to "enhance the army's combat readiness" and were not directed against any specific nations.

Some of the units involved in the exercises moved more than 3,000 kilometers (1,800 miles) from their bases to participate, according to the Russian media reports.

The current drills, which are expected to last through the week, are the latest in a series of snap exercises conducted by the Russian military this year, Russian Television reported. Similar drills have been conducted in the country's west, south and central military districts, the report said.

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