This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has ordered a snap “combat readiness check” involving 150,000 personnel and hundreds of aircraft and naval vessels to ensure security in Russia’s southwest, where he sees a “serious threat” from terrorism.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on July 17 that the “check” had already begun and will test the readiness of Russian armed forces for the Caucasus-2020 military maneuvers scheduled for September.
“In accordance with the decision of the commander in chief of the Russian Armed Forces [Putin], a snap combat readiness check is being conducted by troops of the Southern and Western military districts,” Shoigu said.
The southern and western military districts of Russia border Ukraine, in the east of which Russian-backed separatists have been fighting Ukrainian armed forces since April, 2014.
The “check” is taking place in several areas, including the Black and Caspian Seas, and involves airborne troops and marine infantry from the Northern and Pacific Fleets.
More than 400 aircraft and over 100 vessels will also take part in the military event, according to Shoigu.
Column of BTR-82A vehicles from the Black Sea Fleet’s 810th Naval Infantry Brigade. https://t.co/V4ABkX2fJb pic.twitter.com/ib6dxFMRBq
— Rob Lee (@RALee85) July 17, 2020
After forcibly seizing Crimea and the outbreak of the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine, Russia conducted a large number of snap military exercises in its western and southwestern regions.
In Ukraine, Defense Minister Andriy Taran said on July 17 that Ukrainian armed forces will also conduct military drills in September.
“As [Russian] troops accumulate under the pretext of preparing for the Caucasus-2020 strategic drills, the leadership of Ukraine’s Defense Ministry and the armed forces plan to conduct Joint Effort-2020 strategic command exercises… at the same time, namely in the last part of September,” Taran said.
Taran added that Kyiv expects representatives from NATO countries to take part in the exercises, adding that, according to Ukrainian data, Russia is not preparing any armed offensives during the Caucasus-2020 drills.
Some 13,200 people have been killed since April 2014 in Ukraine’s east, where Moscow has been supporting to pro-Russian separatists there.