Russian army stages ‘biggest’ war games

Russian army stages ‘biggest’ war games

Russian army stages ‘biggest’ war games

Russian President Putin (C) watches a parade during a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow in this June photo. AFP photo

Russian armed forces have started the country’s biggest military drill since Soviet times with the participation of 160,000 servicemen, 1,000 tanks, 130 planes and 70 ships.

The war games will continue in the country’s Far East until July 20, with Defense Minister Sergei Shoygu saying the drill does not target any other country. Aside from performing given tasks, the troops will practice long-distance marches and live ammunition firing tactics.

Shoygu received an order from President Vladimir Putin to test the battle readiness of the Eastern command, which unites military forces in the Far East and Trans-Baikal, on July 13. Military commanders in the Far East and Trans-Baikal learned of the drill’s details only after it had begun, receiving a secret parcel from Defense Minister Shoygu. Following the order, 160,000 servicemen were put on high alert and began advancing toward the training sites.

The statement from the ministry said the drill would require some units to travel more than 3,000 kilometers from their usual deployment sites. Some 700 flat wagons and 50 railway cars were assigned to perform the transfer.

Russia recently finished a joint naval drill with China on July 12. China has long been a key customer for Russian military hardware, but only in the last decade have their militaries begun taking part in joint exercises.