Russian president orders unscheduled military drill in Black Sea
Iran Press TV
Fri Mar 29, 2013 10:16AM GMT
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered an unexpected military exercise involving dozens of ships and thousands of troops in the Black Sea.
Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Thursday that Putin issued the order for the large-scale maneuvers overnight as he flew back from the South African city of Durban after a two-day summit of the BRICS group of emerging powers.
Peskov further said the drill is aimed at testing the battle-readiness of Russia's Black Sea units.
"These are large-scale unannounced test exercises. The main goal is to check the readiness and cohesion of the various units," he said.
The ships taking part in the exercise have already left the Russia-leased Sevastopol port in Ukraine's Crimea Peninsula, the Russian spokesman added.
According to a Kremlin statement, the drill will involve 36 vessels, up to 7,000 troops and an unspecified number of aircraft. However, the statement did not specify how long the exercise would last.
Russian foreign affairs analyst Fyodor Lukyanov, who is also the editor of Russia in Global Affairs journal, said, "It is flexing muscles and may have more to do with what is happening in the Mediterranean, around Syria, than in the Black Sea."
In January, Russia launched its largest naval exercises in decades in the Mediterranean and Black Seas near the territorial waters of Syria.
Moscow said the drills were "held in line with the Russian Armed Forces' 2013 combat training plan,' and focused on 'interoperability of task forces from several fleets while on a mission in a far-off maritime zone."
In addition to Georgia and Ukraine, Russia shares the Black Sea with Turkey, Bulgaria and Romania.
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