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Russia orders 'surprise' military drill in Caspian, Black seas

Russia orders 'surprise' military drill in Caspian, Black seas
A Russian military Su-57 fighter aircraft performs at the MAKS-2019 International Aviation and Space Salon in Zhukovsky Russia, on August 28, 2019. File Photo by Maxim Shipenkov/EPA-EFE

July 17 (UPI) -- The Russian military ordered a surprise combat readiness exercise Friday involving about 150,000 troops, weapons systems, planes and warships.

Russian Defense Minister Army Gen. Sergei Shoigu said the drill started in Moscow's southern and western military districts and included its air force, marine infantry and northern and Pacific fleets.

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The drills, ordered by President Vladimir Putin, are assessing troops' ability to provide military security to Russia's southwest, where officials say terrorist threats persist.

"The check stipulates holding 56 tactical exercises with the troops," Shoigu said. "A total of 35 training grounds and camps and 17 naval ranges in the Black and Caspian Seas will be involved.

"The surprise check has brought together 149,755 personnel, 26,820 items of armament and military hardware, 414 aircraft and 106 warships and support vessels."

In response, Ukraine said it will hold readiness exercises. Kiev has been leery of Russian military action since the annexation of Crimea in 2014.

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