MOSCOW, July 14 (UPI) -- Russian "Bear" bombers were placed on alert Sunday during a surprise military exercise in the Far East region, the Kremlin said.
The defense ministry said the exercises were ordered Friday by President Vladimir Putin and involved more than 160,000 troops and 70 Pacific Fleet warships.
The strategic bombers known as Bears and based in the Amur Region, were placed on full combat readiness Sunday. "On order from the Russian president, the 6952nd air base of long-range aviation is switching to 'Full' combat readiness from 5:00 p.m. Moscow time, July 13," the ministry said in a written statement. "Tu-95MS strategic bombers are preparing for combat mission flights."
Putin ordered the drill to check the district's readiness and the quality of its training and planning. The ministry added that the exercises were proceeding smoothly within the Eastern Military District, which was formed in 2010 by the combination of the Siberian and Far Eastern Military Districts, Russia's RIA Novosti news agency said.