On Wednesday, Russia held a surprise military drill geared to prepare for terrorism and other sorts of unrest. Many international officials say the timing is curious, and even more interesting, the drills were held near the Russian-Ukrainian border. It is a sure sign that Putin is flexing his military arm in a demonstration to Ukraine of military power.
President Vladimir V. Putin ordered a surprise military exercise of ground forces in western Russia and air forces across the country on Wednesday, intending to demonstrate the country’s military preparedness amid tensions with Europe and the United States over the turmoil in Ukraine.
Russia’s military put scores of units on alert at 2 p.m. local time for an exercise that is scheduled to last until March 3, the minister of defense, Sergei K. Shoigu, announced, according to news agencies. Mr. Shoigu’s statement cited the need to test the readiness of the armed forces to respond to a “crisis situation,” including a terrorist attack involving biological or chemical weapons.
Neither Mr. Shoigu nor the Kremlin mentioned the events in Ukraine, which officials here have watched with growing alarm, but the geopolitical message of the snap drill was unmistakable.
Russia has refused so far to recognize the legitimacy of the new political powers in Ukraine’s Parliament following the flight of President Viktor F. Yanukovych last weekend, and officials have denounced the actions of opposition leaders now in control.