Russian Military Drills Amid Growing Tensions in Syria with West and Region

Russian Military Drills Amid Growing Tensions in Syria with West and Region
Wed Feb 10, 2016 11:29:47

Russian President Vladimir Putin has put thousands of troops, warplanes and battleships on high alert in a series of military drills designed to test his military's mobility amid growing tensions with the West.

The war games in south-west Russia will include bombing runs and troop deployments, which the Kremlin says will test its military's ability to respond to external threats.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that military units were put on combat alert early Monday, marking the launch of the exercise that involves troops of the Southern Military District.

The district includes troops stationed in Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014, as well as forces in the North Caucasus and southwestern regions near the border with Ukraine.

Shoigu said the maneuvers will also engage airborne troops and military transport aviation, as well as the navy.

He noted that the drills are intended to check the troops' ability to respond to extremist threats and other challenges.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, meets with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu

According to Shoigu, who spoke at a meeting with the top military brass, the war games would include redeployment of air force units to advance air bases and bombing runs at shooting ranges.

Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said in a statement that up to 8,500 troops, 900 ground weapons, 200 warplanes and about 50 warships will be involved in the drills.

The military used the Syrian operation to test new types of weapons in actual combat for the first time, including long-range air-and-sea-launched cruise missiles.


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