Russia launches large snap military drills
Russia on Thursday launched large-scale snap military drills, putting its troops on full combat readiness in districts bordering Ukraine and the Baltic states, the defence minister said.
“In accordance with the decision of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (President Vladimir Putin), a spot check started today,” Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said. Troops in the country’s southern, central and western military districts, as well as the air force, northern fleet and paratroopers were in “full combat” mode as of 0400 GMT, he said.
The drills – taking place in military districts that encompass the contested Crimea peninsula, the region that borders Ukraine and NATO members Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania, as well as territory spanning from the Ural mountains to central Siberia – are set to last until the month-end.
Shoigu did not reveal how many troops are taking part in the exercises. Relations between NATO and Russia have soured since Moscow annexed the Crimea peninsula of Ukraine in March 2014, and eastern European countries are worried that they too could be targets of Russian aggression.