İrem UZUN -TDO- Russian president Vladimir Putin has ordered an urgent drill to test the combat readiness of the armed forces, according to Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. "In accordance with the decision of the Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Armed Forces snap exercises are being conducted by troops of the Southern and Western military districts," Shoigu said in a statement.
Ministry said that the maneuvers will last until Tuesday, July 21 and involve about 150,000 troops, nearly 27,000 military vehicles, 414 aircraft and 106 navy ships. It noted that the exercise is intended to train the troops for fending off “terrorist threats” in the country's southwest and prepare for the even bigger “Caucasus-2020” drills later this year. The ministry said the troops will train at 35 shooting ranges. The maneuvers will mostly involve land forces based in Russia's southwest, but airborne units and some other forces across Russia will also take part. The navy drills will span the Black Sea and the Caspian and will also involve some marine units from the Far North and the Pacific.
The announcement came just hours after Ukraine's Defence Minister Andriy Taran announced his country would be holding its own drills the same month and encouraged NATO forces to join. Taran has warned that Caucasus 2020 could be used as cover to invade Ukraine, where Russian-backed separatists have been fighting the government since 2014.