Russia has announced to hold 4,000 military exercises in 2015. If it was less than overwhelming, Moscow is currently conducting its biggest drill of this year that involves about 95,000 military personnel. Russian forces are using artillery systems, military aircraft and naval vessels in the drill. The exercises that began Monday run until Sunday, Sept. 20.
Russia held 79 exercises in August
Russian defense ministry said the exercise would be observed on at least one of the days by President Vladimir Putin. According to Russian news agency TASS, Russian forces held a whopping 79 exercises in August alone. The ongoing drill is aimed at testing the preparedness of the military to manage troops in “containing an international armed conflict.” Forces would simulate “blocking and destroying” armed formations during joint operations.
Troops from several other ex-Soviet states have also participated in the war games as part of the Collective Security Treaty Organization (CSTO). At least 20 Russian ships and 170 military aircraft are taking part in drills across 20 sites in Russia’s central military district. According to German website Deutsche Welle, the main action is taking place in Astrakhan, the Ural mountains, and the Siberian Altai.
Russia, NATO prepare for a full-fledged war
NATO and Russia have conducted several military exercises in eastern Europe in recent months amid escalating tensions between the two. According to the European Leadership Network, Russia and NATO came close to war 66 times in the last 12 months. The group has warned that the current situation could lead to a dangerous miscalculation or an unintended conflict. NATO is set to conduct the Exercise Trident Juncture-2015 later this month that will be its biggest military drill in over a decade.
Even though Russia continues to struggle economically amid Western economic sanctions, President Vladimir Putin has pledged to spend $400 billion to modernize the country’s Soviet-era military hardware by 2020. Earlier this week, Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko urged Western countries to supply “defense weapons to help it fight pro-Russian separatists.