Putin orders Black Sea manuevers

March 28, 2013 at 1:06 PM
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MOSCOW, March 28 (UPI) -- The Russian government confirmed that President Vladimir Putin ordered an unscheduled military exercise Thursday in the Black Sea.

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin gave the order for large-scale military maneuvers in the region Thursday morning, state-run news agency RIA Novosti reports.

Peskov said more than 30 warships, 250 combat vehicles and up to 7,000 troops would take part in the exercise.

"The unscheduled exercise is the second in the space of two months and follows a major shake-up at the top of a military establishment demoralized by persistent evidence of rampant corruption," the Russian news agency reported.

Russian defense officials said the drill was the first of its kind to check military readiness in 20 years.

The unscheduled maneuvers followed a decision by the Georgian government to refuse a draft non-aggression document regarding the republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.

"This draft has once again been obstructed by the Georgian side which still insists on some unilateral obligations on the non-use of force from Russia," Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said. "That is totally unacceptable to us."

Georgia, which borders the Black Sea, went to war with Russia in 2008 over the disputed territories.

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