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Russia doubles mass drill troops to 80,000

3/19/2015 7:31:36 PM

Moscow: Russia has doubled the number of troops taking part in mass drills. President Vladimir Putin ordered drills of more than 80,000 troops in a major show of strength amid tensions with the West over Ukraine.

Putin on Monday ordered drills for more than 40,000 troops in regions spanning the country, from the Arctic to the Far East to the volatile southern Caucasus, and ordered nuclear bomber jets to be deployed in Crimea a year after its annexation by Moscow.

RIA Novosti state news agency quoted Russia’s chief of the general staff, Valery Gerasimov, that the "number of troops taking part in the exercises has gone up to 80,000, and the number of aircraft has increased to 220".

Troops in the western and central regions and military aircraft were scrambled for exercises, Gerasimov further added.
The drills are the latest in a succession of large-scale military exercises that Moscow has ordered as relations with the West have sinked to a post-Cold War low over the crisis in Ukraine.

Ukraine and its Western allies have accused Moscow of pouring thousands of troops over the border to spearhead a pro-Russian uprising aimed at halting Kiev`s pivot towards Europe and the United States, while Moscow has denied the allegations.

Russia said Thursday that thousands of troops had launched war games on the remote Pacific island of Sakhalin close to Japan.
According to the defense ministry Russia has deployed "more than 3,000 troops and up to 1,000 units of weaponry and equipment" to Sakhalin, including Osa ground-to-air missile systems and tanks. 

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