MOSCOW, Feb. 26 (UPI) -- Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a surprise drill to test combat readiness of armed forces in the country's western and central regions Wednesday.
Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu said the exercise, which included mock security and terrorist threat scenarios, tested ground troops and aerospace defenses, RIA Novosti reported.
Putin ordered the drill to "test combat readiness of troops in dealing with crisis situations that threaten the military security of the country, as well as with anti-terrorist, sanitary and epidemiological or technogenic situations," Shoigu said.
The readiness test was ordered amid rising tensions in neighboring Ukraine between Russian-allied eastern areas and pro-Western political forces that control the capital city of Kiev after a rebellion that ousted President Viktor Yanukovych, the Los Angeles Times said.
Russia backed Yanukovych with a promised $15 billion package of loans and energy subsidies after the former president angered liberal and nationalist politicians in November by nixing an agreement with the European Union. At least 82 people died in confrontations with riot police last week before an EU-brokered peace accord and agreement on early elections.