VIDEO: Watch Russia’s Massive Military Drills in Crimea Peninsula

Sat Aug 20, 2016 16:44:27

Russian naval and land forces practiced on Friday swiftly moving military hardware and troops to annexed Crimea; the drills are part of a logistics exercise which foreshadows much larger war games planned on the peninsula for next month.

The training exercise comes at a time of heightened tension between Russia and Ukraine after Moscow accused Kiev of sending saboteurs into the contested peninsula to carry out a series of bombings. Kiev has flatly denied that.

President Vladimir Putin flew into Crimea on Friday (August 19) where he held a meeting of his Security Council.

The Defense Ministry said in a statement that Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu had observed part of the training exercise which took place in the Russian port of Novorossiisk.

It said specialized logistic troops had cooperated with Russian Railways and the country's merchant fleet to rehearse moving troops, armor and technical equipment to Crimea, which Russia annexed from Ukraine in 2014.

Vessels from Russia's Black Sea Fleet had also taken part, including a submarine, a large landing ship, mine-sweepers and an unspecified number of guided missile cruisers. Around 2,500 troops and up to 350 armored vehicles had also been involved.

Shoigu had observed how quickly logistics troops were able to organize the loading of armored vehicles and landing troops onto a large landing ship and how quickly they could re-arm a mine-sweeper and a submarine, the ministry said.

"Training on how to destroy groups of saboteurs and how to repel underwater attacks was carried out," said the ministry.

"Sergei Shoigu rated highly the logistic troops' actions and the fact that they were able to rapidly organize the movement of significant amounts of hardware to Crimea."

It said the exercises, which also took place in a number of other locations, began on August 16 and will end on August 20.

Russia's main military exercise for this year - Caucasus 2016 - is due to take place next month and will also involve Crimea and Russia's Black Sea Fleet.

The Russian army's Red Star newspaper in January quoted Colonel-General Alexander Galkin as saying the exercise would check combat readiness and test how air, sea and land forces collaborated together.

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